Three Reasons why Focus Groups Remain Popular and Relevant

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Do you want in on a secret of market researchers? Focus groups. They are a reliable market
research methodology and are widely and frequently used to inform corporate strategy,
advertising campaigns, and product design, to name a few uses. Even with the proliferation of
technology we have at the ready, along with copious amounts of data, some may find it
surprising that market researchers still use the low-tech method of moderating focus groups. The
reason focus groups remain popular is actually because we have so much technology. Here are
three reasons why focus groups are still relevant:

Reason #1: Choices, choices, choices
Today’s consumers are bombarded with choices in what they purchase, how they buy it, and how
they ultimately use products and services. Many companies invest a lot in a technology, product,
or service assuming the customer will use it as intended, but it rarely happens this way. Without
insights into why and how your customers choose to purchase your product and use it, you’re
selling blindly and giving your competition an advantage. Not knowing the real world uses and
habits of your customer regarding your messaging, product placement, and design can flip a
consumer to a competitor.
Understanding consumers’ behaviors and the “how” and “why” behind their purchasing
decisions and actual usage of a product or service is where focus groups shine. Successful
companies are in regular contact with their customers, through on-line forums, social media, and
randomized focus groups. They are continuously evaluating where their customers are buying
their products/services; inquiring about the experience; and probing into how a product, service
or technology is being used. Successful companies don’t rest on their laurels and are looking to
improve the customer experience. They understand that customers have choices (some would say
too many choices) and know that if they’re not listening and adjusting, their competitors are.
Don’t assume that a survey will give you answers to the above questions, they are good for quick
snapshots, but not deeper insights.

Reason #2: Data can be Noisy
Having data about your customers’ behaviors is great. Data can show patterns, page visits, clicks,
page views, and more. You can broadly learn about geographic and demographic differences and
end decisions, but data won’t illuminate why or how people arrived there. Making meaning of
data is best done through qualitative research and understanding the customer journey from
beginning to end can be accomplished with focus groups. Market researchers can probe to learn
what caused someone to fill a shopping basket and complete a transaction, or learn what they
wanted to do, but weren’t able because of technical glitches, or because a website wasn’t user
friendly. Data provides the outline, qualitative research provides the color. The marriage between
the two improves how websites, products, and apps are designed, created, and marketed.

Reason #3: Brand Loyalty

If you’re still not convinced by the effectiveness of focus groups, a third reason we can give is
simple: brand loyalty. Endearing customers to your