Focus groups are a qualitative form of marketing research that can help a marketer assess consumer needs and feelings in a way that simple questionnaires can not. In a focus group, you bring together a small group to discuss issues and concerns about the features of a product. Participants are usually paid a fee for their time. A marketer can gain valuable information such as gaining a customer’s attitudes and determining advertising persuasiveness. The group is typically run by a moderator who maintains the group's focus. Some recent topics of interest regarding this subject are focus groups for advertising, Online focus groups, and political focus groups.
Traditional focus groups usually deal with a consumers reaction to a product, whether it be good or bad. In today’s ad-packed media, marketers need to worry about how consumers react to their advertising. Many marketers have set up focus groups to do just that: gauge how efficient an ad is, whether or not the group was interested, and if the ad and brand name can be recalled from the spot.
Companies such as Motorola have used focus groups to gauge the effectiveness of commercials. When the company chose to launch the “Wings” campaign, they were unsure of what song would be appropriate for the T.V spot. An overwhelming response from a focus group led to the use of the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Marketers at Motorola raised concerns of whether or not the song was appropriate, based on the title. After a positive response from their focus group, the company ran the ad. “overwhelmingly positive focus-group response to the Rolling Stones as a transgenerational and transgeographic icon confirmed people were more interested in the emotion of the music than the lyrics.” (Adage.com, Snyder)
While traditional focus groups and their face to face method of collecting data has proven to be effective, the internet has proven to be both more effective and more convenient. A traditional focus group normally consists of about 10 people, while an online group can reach thousands of participants. The DiscoverWhy group is one such group that holds online polls and focus groups for various companies. In order to test the effectiveness of Lycos.com’s new advertising campaign, “DiscoverWhy polled 500 people online through its patented system, which collects consumers' responses as they watch commercials. With a mouse, participants move a tab on a sliding scale to rate a commercial from one to 10. Commercials are streamed via Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Player software.” (AdAge.com, Riedman) While a normal focus group usually can poll a few participants at a great cost to the marketer, “DiscoverWhy, on the other hand, can poll 1,000 or more people through the Internet and reach them when it's convenient for them.”...