Focus Groups Offer a Fresh Outlook

November 1, 2008

Focus Groups Offer a Fresh OutlookFocus groups are a very helpful marketing tool that we don’t think are used enough. We asked Nancy Ulrich, president of Concepts in Focus, a top-rated Northeast Florida research facility in Orange Park, if she could set expectations for a company considering adding focus groups to their 2009 research arsenal.

“The very act of sitting together and interacting with both a skilled moderator and a mixed group of people stimulates new ideas and information that is hard to come by in any other way,” said Ulrich. “Typically, a group is held in a facility with a one-way mirror and recording devices (audio and video), allowing the observers to participate in a secluded setting. Non-traditional settings may work just as well if there is minimal need for observation and quality recordings.”

Have you ever wondered how your front-desk or customer service staff interacts with patients or customers when you are not near? Or have you wondered what the customer service experience is like at a competing office or store? Ulrich suggests that a mystery shopper or shop-along program may be exactly what you need to determine how you stack up against your competition.

These strategies can answer many specific questions you may have about how your product or service is perceived by the general public, including:

  • What are some pluses and minuses for our product and those of our competitors?
  • What improvements would make our product stand out from the rest?
  • Why are our sales down and our competitors’ up in a market that stopped expanding?
  • How can we get people to buy our product or service?
  • Would this concept or idea convince people to use our product or service?
  • What are our ex-customers saying about us?

If you are interested in the answer to any of these questions about your own product or service, then maybe it’s time you consider allocating part of your marketing budget to research that can truly provide you with answers to what’s working, and what isn’t.


Jan Hirabayashi founded BroadBased in 1996 and is the company's CEO and lead marketing strategist.