Want to know a secret of nationwide qualitative research firms? Focus Groups. Even with new methodologies available to qualitative research consultants, focus groups remain a reliable methodology and continue to be frequently used to inform advertising campaigns, product design, UX design, and corporate strategy. While some of the newer, hi-tech options for research are becoming more common, such as mobile ethnographies and biometric tracking, the lo-tech option of focus groups remains just as effective and popular. Let’s explore three reasons why focus groups continue to be commonly used and relevant to qualitative market research.
Reason #1: So Many Choices
With so many choices in what is available and how to purchase (on-line, in-store, social media, etc.), consumers feel bombarded. This overload of choice sometimes means that consumers behave in unpredictable ways. Companies continue to invest a lot of time, money, and resources in new technologies, products, and services on the assumption that consumers will use and consume as intended, but this rarely happens. Conducting qualitative market research before launching or changing a product or service is one way to better understand where the gaps between a company’s assumptions about consumer behavior are and actual consumer response. When companies don’t have insight into how and why a customer chooses to purchase and use a product/service, it is not surprising when the product/service launch falls short of expectations. When companies are aware of ‘real world’ habits, patterns, and reactions they are better positioned to capture market share.
Focus groups are a great way to better understand consumers’ behaviors and the “how” and “why” behind their purchasing decisions and actual usage of a service or product. Successful companies remain in contact with their customers, through social media, on-line forums, surveys, and focus groups. These companies are constantly probing where their customers are buying their products or services; inquiring about their experiences; and evaluating into how a product, service, or technology is being used or consumed. Successful companies are looking to improve the customer experience and don’t rest on their laurels. They understand that consumers have choices–some would say too many–and know that if they’re not listening and reacting to their customers, their competitors are.I’ll let you in another market research secret: don’t assume that a survey will provide answers to the above questions, they’ reappropriate for quick snapshots, but not deeper insights. Focus group recruitment agencies can find the right participants to populate market research studies to help companies remain relevant and competitive.
Reason #2: Data is Noisy
While it’s great to have data about your customers’ behaviors, it can also be noisy. Data show patterns, page visits, page views, clicks, and lots of other details. Data can give you a general understanding of geographic and demographic differences, but data won’t illuminatewhy or howconsumers made their purchasing decision or what their journey was like. To make sense of data it’s best to conduct qualitative research focus groups and seek to understand the customer journey from beginning to end. Data provides the frame and qualitative research provides the picture. The union between the two improves how websites, apps, and products are designed, and marketed.
Reason #3: Brand Loyalty
Still not convinced by the effectiveness of focus groups? A third reason why focus groups remain relevant is simple: brand loyalty. Engaging consumers to your brand so they remain loyal, and share their positive experiences with their social networks, can be accomplished by learning from them in focus groups. What specific improvements are they seeking? Are they experiencing glitches or frustrations when interacting with your product? Is your competition offering something that you aren’t? These are a sampling of questions that can be asked during focus group sessions. Working with a market research recruiting firm is your first step in recruiting for focus groups!