Focus Groups and In-Depth Interviews
Utilize First-Hand Feedback from Your Customer Base
Focus groups provide a level of personal face-to-face interaction that is most valuable.
Customers are always leaving feedback for companies, yours included, be it through social media, third-party review sites like Yelp or directly on your website. While this feedback is helpful, it misses one important aspect: personal interaction. Sure, you can respond through each of these feedback channels, but it’s ultimately one block of text talking to another block of text; there’s no human interaction, which is where the best criticism, constructive or not, comes. To get the most valuable feedback, there needs to be a level of personal face-to-face interaction. To accomplish this, you may require the expertise of a focus group agency like Innis Maggiore.
At Innis Maggiore, the nation’s leading positioning ad agency, we understand that knowing how your customers view you and your company is the biggest part of positioning, and therefore find first-hand feedback to be indispensable. To capture that feedback in the most intimate setting, we help our clients arrange and conduct interactive studies such as focus groups and in-depth interviews that equally engage your company and your customers.
The flip side to this is that we know to do “just enough” and “just the right kind” of research. Large brands have made major moves based on research that turned out to be massive failures. Tropicana’s packaging move is one such debacle. Millions of dollars in research only to return six weeks later to one of the most iconic perfectly positioned images ever — the orange with the straw in it that conveys “fresh.” Who doesn’t want fresh orange juice? Apparently, the “research” thought otherwise. That’s the importance of the right kind of research from the right kind of focus group agency who does just enough to give you the insights you’re seeking.
The Value of a Focus Group Agency
What makes first-hand feedback that much better than a review on a website?
While it may be the same type of content, much like with everything else in life, context is everything. A tweet is fine, as customers are still interacting with you and your brand, but there’s not much information surrounding it. Who is saying it? What was their experience with your brand and your position? What is their intent with their review? Through utilizing feedback channels such as focus groups and in-depth interviews, all of these questions and more can be answered, and more context can be given about the people reviewing your products or services such as their social, economic, cultural, or environmental statuses.
The benefit of using a focus group agency is our expertise that comes from having conducted thousands of such sessions. From crafting the research questions, which is part art and part science, recruiting participants, conducting the sessions, and finally, evaluating the research, we are able to glean valuable insights as to the perception of your product, service, and company.
Innis Maggiore also has a proprietary method for a company seeking to find or validate its position in the marketplace. We call it positioning gap research. Rather than measure only the perceptions of your brand with the participants, our research questions are designed to measure the difference (the gap) between your position and competitive positions and measure the relevance of these brands to the target market.
In a focus group, participants can give specific feedback directly about your company, offering brand-new perspectives. And having a third-party focus group agency conduct these sessions means there is an air of separation between the customer and the candid insights they may offer.
Additionally, since there is face-to-face interaction, there is room for flexibility and adaptability as focus group members respond to questions. All focus groups have a moderator and a moderator’s guide, but it’s the off-script discussion that typically provides the greatest insights on your brand(s).
Hosting focus groups where multiple participants can interact and transparently share experiences can also serve to spark new ideas based on prevalent issues or positive feedback, especially those that may not come up in a public forum.
Arranging and Conducting Effective Focus Groups
Let’s say you decide to conduct a focus group or an in-depth interview, whether to get a preliminary reaction to an upcoming product or to get detailed feedback on an existing product.
Where do you even start? There’s a lot of groundwork that needs to be done: finding willing participants, finding people to conduct the study, possible legal documentation, narrowing down what exactly you want to achieve with your study and what questions you should ask to receive the clearest insights, and possibly the worst part of any project: scheduling. If you don’t know what it is you’re doing, what seems like a simple task on paper can quickly snowball into a mountain of overwhelming work.
A focus group agency like Innis Maggiore will help a client focus. A focus group can’t help you learn everything you ever wanted to know about your customers, the market, and how they perceive all your products or services. This is why it’s called a “focus” group. Having very narrow research goals is critical to a successful research project.
The Focus Group is Done – Now What?
Once the study is conducted and the data is gathered, the final step is figuring out what to do with that data.
Knowing what the general perceptions are toward your brand is good, but forming actionable steps is the true value of focus groups and in-depth interviews. By analyzing the responses and pinpointing recurring themes or ideas, we help you narrow down the data to a few key strategies for improvement in your marketing, sales, and product development.