Have Focus Groups Had Their Day?


Found on Neil Perkin’s “Only Dead Fish” blog: “ll admit to having never really been fond of focus groups. For quite some time I’ve been troubled by the question of whether they yield quite the value that companies seem to invest in them. Or rather, I should perhaps more accurately say troubled by the question of whether the way in which focus groups are used justifies that value. Which is a different, but no less significant question.

It seems I’m not the only one. Last year Behavioural Economist and author Dan Ariely elucidated against the way in which they often seem to be used, noting what a strange idea it is that: “we take 10 people who know basically nothing about your project and you put them in the room and you let them talk for a while and then you take…whatever they came up with, as a consequence of these two hours of random thinking and you base your strategy on it, to a large degree”. His point, is that too often businesses rely on small ‘focus groups’ to answer the really big questions.

This, I should say, I have witnessed. His suggested reason for it has a distinct ring of plausibility about it: that focus groups are extremely good at giving business folk and marketers nuggets around which they might construct believable stories. Saying “Joe, focus group 17, said this,” creates a story that is a lot more human, more filled with relatable desire, one that …read on.”

TFA Team


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