Beyond Focus Groups: New Methodologies Seeing Success

Need an alternative to a traditional focus group? Some researchers are dreaming up entirely new ways to collect consumer opinions, as Elaine Wong explains in a recent Forbes article.

Take, for example, the friendship group, which is frequently used at Indianapolis-based advertising agency Young & Laramore. A friendship group is “when the company will tap one consumer and ask that individual to recruit two or three others from his/her social circle,” Wong explains. “The assumption is that one is more likely to be comfortable in an experimental setting when with others in one’s social network.”

The New England Consulting Group uses something they call super groups, for which they actually seek out the extreme or “lunatic fringes” of a consumer set, as company CEO and founder Gary Stibel calls them. “Talking to those who are not your average consumer ensures that you get not-so-average—and in some cases, off the chart—results,” Wong explains.

The article also explores something called conflict groups, when “you recruit and mix people who love something [with] others who hate it or [bring together] passionate lovers of two different brands,” Arnold’s Lisa Borden told Forbes.

So what’s causing these companies to want to shake up old methodologies? Many point to social media. While some say it has killed the traditional group (a little dramatic, don’t you think?), others say its proliferation has opened the door to new data mining opportunities.

So what do you think of these new methodologies? Would you use them in your research?

One Comment
  1. I think anything that gets people together talking about companies and products is going to be productive for companies that listen to what the participants are saying! I would definitely use them, but it takes a client that is less risk averse than are most of mine!

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