I have been reading a lot about the change of Tropicana packaging in the US and the back flip to the old pack based on the outcry by passionate drinkers of the brand. There’s a bit of a vibe that this has been the fault of the focus group.
I’m sick of focus group bashing. Can we give it a break? It’s getting intensely boring.
Can we instead bash these people…
1) bad moderators who are happy to take what people say on face value, and report the most obvious, “he said, then she said” style of presentation that leaves you wondering ‘what the hell do we do?’ at the end of it.
2) naughty clients who use focus groups to rubber stamp an idea that they have already decided on, and often ignore what people are thinking and feeling if it doesn’t back this up (hmmm, I wonder if the new Tropicana pack was a lighthouse act for a new marketing director? Or a group who thought their brand was a bit tired and needed sexing up to reflect their life values?)
3) People who call for the death of the face to face group and want to move everything to web-trawling, or scanning twitter, or brand communities. They are great tools to employ, but you will only ever get to hear the voice of a particular type of consumer. Trust me – there’s a whole world out there and not all of it is on-line…
So I call on all (good) qualitative researchers to start standing up for ourselves!
To tell the “focus groups are dead” people to go and take a flying leap!
To produce amazing work to blow our clients minds away!
To always be curious about how people live their lives, and never give up asking the ‘why’ stuff!
To embrace the focus group as the good tool it can be, and don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to say “I AM A QUALITATIVE RESEARCHER WHO LOVES THE FOCUS GROUP!”