Monday, September 07, 2009

Focus groups

The old way of doing a focus group is dying. Now I can do a survey online with little or no cost, but if I want to do it the old fashioned way, there are a few new ways to get good information. From

Refocus That Focus

Sad but true: The use of focus groups to determine consumer preferences has lost favor in recent years. Why? Because "consumers have clear cognitive models of what to do when they're part of focus groups, which makes their answers sound canned and sterile," says Gavin Johnston in an article at MarketingProfs.

Still, Johnston insists that marketers should not ditch this approach to gaining customer input. He offers these tips for putting today's focus-group participants in a "more-engaged, more-creative state of mind":

Set a cool stage. Create a more natural setting than the standard conference-room-with-two-way-mirror thing. "[S]trike a balance between a living space and a professional space," he suggests. Soft chairs, soft floor-lamp lighting, will put folks more at ease.

Conduct three fun sessions. Johnston advises following this model to surprise your attendees and get fresh responses:

  1. Eat, blab and be merry. Serve a meal. (Wow! Big change!) Get people talking and enjoying themselves, then do your intro.
  2. Turn the cameras on—obviously. As Johnston notes, no one was ever fooled by that two-way mirror, anyway. So make it obvious when you begin the "main event." Also, use two moderators to keep the conversation flowing: one up front, and one seated among the participants.
  3. Get down to the nitty-gritty. End the session, turn the cameras off and encourage participants to speak with the moderators for 20 more minutes. You'll grab amazing nuggets of info not shared during the main event.

The Po!nt: Switch to the wide-angle. "Changing the [focus-group] format to a more relaxed, expansive session [will generate] creative thinking and new ideas," Johnston concludes.

Source: MarketingProfs. Click to read the article.

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