If you get right down to it, I’m a quant. My history is with surveys and quantitative social media research. I have little experience with focus groups or neuroscience or eye tracking or many other respected and mistrusted methodologies. I can criticize the heck out of any of them but then, it really wouldn’t be fair.
But market researchers love to criticize. That’s what the test control design is set up to do. Prove and disprove based on logic and facts. So we criticize methodologies we aren’t familiar with even when we don’t have the facts. Are you one of the people who’s lambasted focus groups for their lack of generalizability? Have you laughed neursocience studies off the stage for their hocus pocus?
If you’ve never participated in a focus group, commission one now. Participate in the sampling, help write the discussion guide, help lead a group, help write up the results. See for yourself the good and bad that can come from it. Compare the results with those that come from the good and bad of the method you’re most familiar with. Learn something new. Try something new for once. Radical?
Here’s your task. Read the following list of tasks and identify which ones are useless to brands and clients: – Watching how people interact with and actually use a product – Listening to how people talk about products with their peers – Learning which features people use to convince other consumers – Learning how consumers convince others to use a product
- Observing facial expressions of disgust and shame and love and peace – Watching for passion and complacency
Your second task: Make a list of all of the research methods that are error-free, risk-free and always give valid and reliable results.
There may be no perfect research method but there’s definitely a place for focus groups.