In order to effectively market to your target audience, it’s vital you first learn all that you can about what they think of your product or service. Their motivations, their reservations, their concerns, etc. We’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is through focus groups.
A focus group usually refers to a group of 10 or fewer volunteers brought together to discuss a particular product or idea. A moderator will ask them a series of questions or give them a product to try, after which they freely share their opinions, ideas and reactions. All responses are viewed and studied to measure the likely reaction of the larger market population. Focus groups are usually tools used by the advertising industry to measure the potential impact of a new product.
Selecting volunteers to participate in the focus groups is extremely important. They should represent different personas within your target audience, which can be identified through a variety of consumer research methods. While conducting consumer research, we highly recommend that you not only gather demographic data about your target audience, but psychographic data as well, so you can better understand what truly motivates your target audience. It will also help you segment responses from the focus group participants, for better understanding.
Immediate Feedback - A focus group is a useful method that can be used to measure the reaction of customers to your new product or company strategies. Focus groups usually provide immediate ideas for the improvement of particular products or concepts.
Audience Needs - They also help identify the product requirements of the end-user as well as other needs not addressed by the company and its competitors.
Competitive Landscape - In addition, focus groups provide insights on the current position of your competitors in the mind of the customer, as well as measuring the reaction of customers to a product’s design, packaging, price and message.
Time-Saver - The condensed nature of a focus group makes it possible for your business to solicit a quantity of opinions and feedback on multiple aspects of a product without the time intensive process of individually soliciting interviews. Time saved in the research phase of product development is key in rapidly evolving industries, particularly if a comprehensive focus group allows you to expedite a product's journey to the marketplace.
Making sure you are conducting a focus group in the proper way is vital to the information gathering process. How the questions are phrased are as important as the questions themselves. If you have a weak moderator or an unstructured session it could yield unhelpful or even incorrect insights. Anecdotal stories from friends or family are fine, but an effective focus group is designed to inform your strategic planning going forward, with real data and insight from volunteers in your target audience.