I’ve been designing and moderating focus groups for three decades. What an amazing idea: put 10 of your best customer prospects in a room or 10 of your target “personas” in a room or 10 of the people you hope will vote for you or buy your product or service… and have them discuss why your product or service is best, how it could be improved, what it means to them to have it, what your competitors are doing better than you, how they hope your product or service will change their lives.
I used to resent the use of the title phrase “let’s focus group it,” determining that it demeaned the science and value of the group dynamic. But, I’ve changed my mind. Keeping “focus groups” front and center to help organizations understand “consumer” behavior is what I hope for.
This blog post came to mind when I saw this charming comic (I love comics!) about focus grouping in the 16th Century.
But, from the point of view of the experienced moderator (me), I say this: let’s not misuse these great tools and presume that they are quantitative survey samples or polls. Focus groups work best when you need to hear the “whys” behind the numbers or the choices, when you want to learn what will really impact people choosing your product or service. And, you need a moderator who knows how and when to ask the “whys” and help people consider their choices… because understanding that contributes to design of effective marketing communications, strategies, product concepts, and reasons-to-choose/benefits.
Let’s talk more about how we design and moderate focus groups for optimal results.