11 Things Zombie Movies Can Teach Us About Marketing Research

Zombie aficionados are passionate people. They love debating the merits of different zombie movies and TV shows, dissecting the different ways zombies walk, moan, and chomp on human flesh. 

To me, though, there’s one thing that every zombie story can teach us marketers: stay one step ahead of your competition in your market research or suffer a gruesome fate! Just be careful you don’t get bitten by your sample group.

Everything Wrong With All Of Us Are Dead (Zombie Sins)
1. Understand Your Audience: Just as survivors must understand zombies, marketers must understand their target audience for effective research.
2. Adaptability is Key: Surviving a zombie apocalypse requires adaptability; similarly, marketers need to adapt to changing consumer behaviors.
3. Collaboration Matters: Teamwork among survivors translates to collaboration among different marketing departments.
4. Clear Communication: Effective communication saves lives in zombie movies and ensures successful marketing campaigns.
5. Plan and Strategize: Just as survivors strategize to avoid zombies, marketers must plan and strategize for successful campaigns.
6. Embrace Innovation: Both survivors and marketers need innovative approaches to tackle unexpected challenges.
7. Analyze Data: Analyzing zombie behavior is like analyzing customer data for informed marketing decisions.
8. Use Resources Wisely: Limited resources in a zombie scenario reflect budget constraints in marketing; make the most of what you have.
9. Building Trust: Trust is vital among survivors and customers; marketers should focus on building and maintaining trust.
10. Stay Ahead of Trends: Just as survivors anticipate zombie movements, marketers need to stay ahead of industry trends.
11. Adapt to New Realities: Survivors adapt to a new world, and marketers should adapt to changing market landscapes.

1. You Need To Know What Scares Away Your Customers

The first step to improving the quality of your research is understanding what scares away your customers. This sounds like an obvious point, but it’s surprising how many businesses fail to consider this when they conduct their research.

The best way I’ve found that helps me explain what scares away customers in a marketing context is to use a zombie movie analogy. In the post-apocalyptic world of zombies, there are no rules; anything goes no matter how gruesome or frightening it may be, as long as it works!

Take “World War Z” for example; Brad Pitt leads a team of researchers into hot zones so they can gather information about the zombie epidemic and develop strategies for fighting it back. 

The researchers’ primary goal is survival which means they have no choice but to brave some pretty scary situations along the way (like being chased by hordes of undead). 

The same thing applies in marketing: if you want success in your field, then you need to face down any fears head-on and determine exactly where potential customers are hiding out (and then start hunting them down).

Conducting effective market research doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn how to gather valuable insights without spending a dime by following our guide on how to conduct market research for free.

2. You Need To Understand The Things That Motivate Your Target Audience

To understand the motivations of your target customers, you first need to determine what types of motivation are most important to them. Motivations can be categorized as belonging to one of four groups: survival, growth, social, or ego.

The survival category is about basic needs like shelter, food, and water. The growth category is all about improving the quality of life through material wealth or career advancement. 

The social group wants to belong and influence others while the ego group sets out to prove itself by achieving goals such as climbing Mount Everest or running a marathon (and becoming famous because they did it).

3. Understand How Much A Bite Affects Your Business

In marketing research, a “bite” is the act of someone participating in your study. You can think of it like a zombie bite: the more bites you get, the more zombies will be attracted to your business.

The number of bites needed to attract zombies depends on several factors:

The type of business being advertised. A local coffee shop might only need 10 bites before attracting a zombie horde; whereas an international chain restaurant might need thousands.

The location where you’re advertising. If there are already lots of zombies in town, it will take more advertising for them to notice yours.

So if there aren’t many people around who haven’t been bitten yet (and therefore aren’t attracted by advertisements), then it may take more bites for those remaining un-bitten folks to make their way over from other towns or states in which case it could take even longer!

Surveys are a powerful tool for gathering customer insights, but preparation is key. Explore our list of 14 tips before conducting a survey to ensure your survey yields meaningful results.

4. Know What Makes You Special And Keep Track Of It

What makes your business unique? It may be something obvious, like the fact that you’re the only company in your industry using a particular technology. 

But it might also be something less visible like an internal culture of collaboration and innovation that drives your employees’ productivity.

It’s important to know what makes you different from your competitors. That way, if someone asks why they should buy from you instead of them or what sets you apart from other companies offering similar products and services, you’ll have answers ready to go.

Knowing what makes your business different from its customers is equally important; 

After all, if customers don’t see any value in working with or buying things from your company for whatever reason (even if that reason is that they simply don’t realize that there are benefits), then no amount of marketing will convince them otherwise!

5. Survival Techniques Vary By Geography And Climate

The climate and geography of a region are critical factors in determining how you should stock up for the zombie apocalypse. If you live in an area where there’s plenty of rain or snow, you’ll need more clothing than if you live in a dry climate.

In terms of food and water, note that some crops are more resilient than others to different climates. For example:

The growing season for corn will be much longer in Florida than it would be if you were living in Alaska. This means that Floridians could harvest more corn than Alaskans during their respective winters but only if they have enough storage space!

In general, warmer climates mean less precipitation (rain or snow) which means less water available for drinking or irrigation unless you build a well before the outbreak occurs.*

6. Be Sure You Have A Clear And Attainable Goal In Mind

If you’re going to make a movie about zombies, it’s important to remember that no one wants to watch a bunch of people wandering around aimlessly without a clear and attainable goal in mind. 

Before you begin any marketing research (or zombie films), be sure you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

For example, if your goal is “to sell more products,” then ask yourself:

Who am I selling these products to? Do certain demographics respond better than others? What do those demographics like or dislike?

What product am I selling? How does this fit into the needs and desires of my target audience? How much will they pay for it (and how much are they willing to pay)? When do they need or want it (and when can I deliver it)?

Marketing research comes in various forms, each serving a unique purpose. Discover the different types of research and their significance by checking out our article on 16 types of marketing research and why you need them.

7. You’ll Never Win Over Your Opposition Until You Figure Out Their Motivations

The key to marketing success is knowing your competition and understanding their motivations.

In a zombie movie, the hero must overcome a series of obstacles to survive the infection. He’s not just fighting for himself: he’s fighting for his family and friends as well. If he doesn’t succeed, everyone he loves will end up becoming zombies!

This is similar to how you should be viewing your competitors: they’re not just another company trying to compete with yours; they’re directly threatening your livelihood, which means that you have everything riding on beating them. 

To win, you need to understand what motivates them and what makes them unique from other companies out there who offer similar products/services/experiences (in other words: why would someone choose one over another?).

8. Understand How Different The Newcomers Are From Your Current Employees

One of the best things about zombie movies is that they can teach us about how different people are from each other. In the case of marketing research, this means understanding how the newcomers are different from your current employees.

As a manager or leader, you know that new employees bring added value to an organization: they’re more likely to be adaptable and flexible; they have new ideas and perspectives; 

They may have a different approach to problem-solving, and they often have a different work ethic. Here are some examples of how this plays out in zombie movies:

In Shaun of the Dead (2004), when Ed (Nick Frost) first meets Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), he assumes that since he’s an American with money, he’ll be able to help them get out of town on his yacht. 

But it turns out Pete has no idea what’s going on he doesn’t even recognize his wife!

In 28 Days Later…(2002), Jim Armitage wakes up from a coma to find himself in London after being attacked by zombies during his travels through Europe. 

He joins forces with Selena (Naomie Harris) as she tries to figure out what happened while also trying not to succumb to herself.

9. Keep Tabs On Demographics And Industry Trends

You don’t have to be a zombie movie buff to know the importance of keeping tabs on demographic and industry trends. 

Zombie movies are an excellent way to learn this skill because they help you think about how companies can discover new markets, and they teach you what it takes to stay ahead of the curve.

Below are some examples of ways that zombie movies illustrate these points:

Know what your competitors are doing: In one scene from Night of the Living Dead (1968), Ben tells Harry that he knows where their group is hiding because “I’ve been watching them.” 

He explains that he made sure to keep track of their movements so that he could lead his group safely away from them later on in the film. 

This same principle applies in business: You should always be aware of who your competitors are so that you can stay one step ahead of them when necessary.

Keep track of industry trends: In Dawn Of The Dead (1978), news broadcasts reveal that there has been another breakout at a local hospital which means people infected with a virus caused by eating other humans’ flesh have escaped into society.

Again after being quarantined inside medical institutions for months on end during earlier outbreaks across America. 

This sequence also illustrates an important point about marketing research: Always listen carefully when news reports come out about current events or potential threats within your market space the information may prove useful later on down the road!

Online marketing research offers innovative opportunities to gain insights into consumer behavior. Delve into the world of creative online research with our list of 10 creative things to know about online marketing research.

10. Know Which Of Your Products Or Services Needs To Be Replaced Soon, Or Else!

There’s a lot of overlap between the world of marketing research and zombie movies. While we should never actually be afraid that zombies will take over the Earth, there are some lessons we can learn from zombie movies that apply to our everyday lives.

Here are 11 things zombie movies can teach us about marketing research:

  • Know what you’re selling
  • Know what your competitors are selling
  • Know what your customers want or need (and don’t just try to sell them something)
  • Know how much time is left before you need to start working on new products/services

11. With Competition Among Products Constantly Changing, You Must Keep Track Of Consumer Preferences

The key to keeping track of all these things is to have a system in place that can help you make sense of the data. 

For example, a simple spreadsheet or database will do the trick for most basic information, but if you’re dealing with larger datasets or more complicated metrics, then you’ll want to look into software solutions (like Nielsen Catalina Solutions).

You also want to be sure your research methodology is up to date and appropriate for today’s market conditions. 

This means using tools like online surveys that allow people from all over the world to participate in your study and it means making sure your sample size is large enough so that each respondent represents their demographic category accurately.

Despite its importance, market research often falls short of delivering actionable insights. Explore the reasons behind this issue in our article on why market research is broken and learn about potential solutions to improve its effectiveness.


We hope that this article has given you some insight into the world of marketing research and how it can help you (and your company) improve. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine how all of these things relate to zombies after all, what’s scarier than a bunch of brain-eating monsters? 

However, the reality is that there are zombies in every industry, including marketing. They don’t always eat brains and they may not even know it but if we’re not careful about doing our research, we could end up feeding them without even realizing what we’ve done!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to explore related to the insights from zombie movies and marketing research:

Title: 8 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Zombies Description: NPR offers an in-depth look at key facts and concepts about zombies, shedding light on the undead phenomenon that has captured popular culture.

Title: 6 Things Marketers Can Learn from Horror Movies Description: This blog post from Clarity Ventures explores valuable marketing lessons that can be drawn from horror movies, including parallels to effective marketing strategies.

Title: What Can We Learn from Zombie Movies in the Time of Corona Description: ResearchGate presents a study on the insights that zombie movies can provide, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.


What are some common themes in zombie movies?

Zombie movies often explore themes of survival, societal breakdown, and human behavior under extreme circumstances.

How can marketers apply lessons from horror movies?

Marketers can use the suspense-building techniques from horror movies to create anticipation and engagement in their campaigns.

What can zombie movies teach us about human psychology during crises?

Zombie movies can provide insights into how individuals and groups respond to fear, uncertainty, and the need to adapt quickly.

Are there parallels between zombie movie scenarios and real-world situations?

Yes, zombie movie scenarios can reflect real-world challenges, such as pandemics, disaster preparedness, and the importance of collaboration.

How can marketers use zombie movie concepts to enhance their campaigns?

Marketers can use zombie movie concepts like teamwork, resourcefulness, and adapting to unexpected situations to create relatable and impactful campaigns.

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