People aren't as unpredictable as you might hope.
That's not entirely true. Yes on an individual level you might find quite a few differences, but as a whole we are pretty homogenous on a lot of topics and trends. You see it in both culture and nature. There are just certain appearances and trends that resonate with the vast majority of people.
Off the top of my head (and from a few years back so might be a few inaccuracies), but there is a reason most people find baby animals cute. It has something to do with the a small body and out of proportion features being aesthetically pleasing. I believe its the same for human children as well.
Look, I can understand where you're coming from, guys, but honestly the mob mentality doesn't cover it all. It proves that you can get a general broad-strokes notion of human behavior, but if it were totally predictable, we wouldn't have companies wondering why their latest cool product is a flop, even when you talk to random focus groups to get in on what people think. How bad must it be when a fairly logical approach actually gets you into hot water? Basing products off of the opinions of actual customers to supply a demand should be quite natural...but in practice it will always be much harder than in theory. It is my belief that you can do everything right and still get nothing to show for it because of the random moods of people. We may be the ones who HAVE logic, but we are not a logical people for the most part.
Well to be fair, most companies don't look at 800 different copies of the same/similar product and carefully analyze them for a trend. Focus groups too are okay, but can very quickly produce flawed results if you aren't careful choosing your actual groups to study.
That's not to say you're wrong though. No one is arguing that moods of the populace of the time may affect a product's success. The researchers even mentioned that a large component is luck.
Researchers from Stony Brook University have created an algorithm that can predict successful books with 84 percent accuracy.
Having grown up near, and attended this particular bastion of higher learning, and one of its more northern colder twins, I can say one thing regarding this without fear. "Researchers" at SUNY Stony Brook would be lucky to get the time of day right 85% of the time.
"SCIENCE discovers the Secret to Successful Writing! Turns out it was good writing all along!"
Avoiding ungainly verbs, purging adverbs at sight and keeping things tidy is not particularly hard. It's a bit like how the secret of making successful furniture is having good tools and looking after them properly.
But then again, I suppose, it's rather interesting seeing some form of "proof" to it. Science isn't always about groundbreaking new discoveries, but further proving something that people likely already know.