In a marketplace that’s growing increasingly competitive, doing all you can to ensure the success of a new product or product line your company plans to introduce is more important than ever. Conducting a focus group is an effective means of getting valuable feedback from consumers in your target demographic.
Follow these guidelines to gather information that is accurate and useful:
• Identify the objective of the group – the more specific, the better.
• Bring all interested parties together in the planning process. Their input will create a total picture of the information you need the group to provide.
• Determine what issue or need the information you gather will address, and develop questions upon that basis.
• Keep questions to eight or fewer (preferably) to obtain the most information-rich responses.
• Select group participants carefully to provide a good cross-section of your target demographic. Avoid using employees, even if they fit the profile.
• Keep the size of the group at about eight. Contrary to common belief, more participants will dilute the results rather than represent a better sample of target market demographics.
• Don’t try to do everything in one group – the results will be too general to provide beneficial insight. Addressing one to three main issues per session is much more effective.
• Conduct more than one group session if possible. Studies reveal that when two sessions are held, 80 percent of the value of the focus group’s data comes from the second session.
• Hire an outside, professional moderator. A professional knows how to guide group dynamics and has the skill to interpret participant behavior. A group conducted by an in-house moderator risks having the results skewed toward what the moderator believes top management “wants” to hear. In keeping your competitive edge, objective is better – even if the truth hurts. Bruised egos are preferable to bruised profits. We recommend Lynette Leathers @ Mindspot, for example.
Once the data is gathered and interpreted, your company will experience real benefits from knowing more about its target market – whether the project needs some tweaking or is ready for introduction to eager consumers.