Archives for category: Focus Group

So you think you know your market, eh? Ok. Say you have an insight of what your target audience’s wants and needs are. And then you plan your entire marketing activities based on a “guesstimate”. Uh-Oh… not so advisable.

You may have a lot of data coming from different sources, but that means absolutely nothing if you don’t look at it properly and analyse it thoroughly. By properly researching your market, you get one step ahead. You have an advantage against your competitors.

Market research is a systematic, objective collection and analysis of data about your target market, competition, and/or environment and your goal should be to increase your understanding of them. What most people forget is this: market research is not an activity conducted only once. It is an ongoing cycle, or at least it should be if you are really going to benefit.

The power of information is outstanding when it comes to market research. The information you find can guide your most important strategic business decisions and usually, if done properly, the findings and conclusions you reach have a value that exceeds the cost of the research itself.

So here are my top 10 benefits of market research:

1. Market research guides your communication with current and potential customers.

Once you have your research results, you should have enough ammunition to formulate the most effective way to communicate to your customers. You should know what they like/don’t like to hear/see/do. Then you can tailor what you say to them to make them take action.

2. Market research helps you identify opportunities in the marketplace.

Research might make it obvious that a new product you have planned may not be what your market wants or needs. You may then decide to make modifications on what you are going to offer to suit your audience.

3.  Market research helps you minimize risks.

Through market research, you may find all the information you need to decide whether to take action on a particular subject. For example, you may find that the particular location where you wanted to open a shop already has a saturated market in your line of business, which should make you refrain from making that decision and look for a more appropriate spot.

4. Market research measures your reputation.

It’s always good to know how you measure against your competitors. Market research finds out just where you are and then, according to the results, you can take action to change perception.

5.  Market research uncovers and identifies potential problems.

You can get consumers’ reactions to a new product or service when it is still being developed. This should enlighten any further development so it suits its intended market.

6. Market research helps you plan ahead.

Research can estimate the likely sales of a new product/service and also the advertising expenditure required to achieve maximum profits.

7.   Market research can help you establish trends.

If you treat your market research as an ongoing exercise that you do periodically, you’ll find that you’ll have a lot of data to be able to analyse your customers and establish any particular trends.

8. Market research helps you establish your market positioning.

It’s important to know the position of your business at particular moments in time. Information from market research helps you benchmark and monitor your progress, which can be useful to make decisions and take action.

9.  Market research can determine the most persuasive ‘promise’.

Every brand needs to make a promise. If you think of the most known brands, they all make a promise to you and you usually know what is by just looking at their logo. It can be security, a fast and tasty meal or the assurance of top technology. It needs to be simple and market research can help you define what your brand’s promise is.

10. Market research can find that compromise.

The team involved in the launch of a new product/service all have their individual perceptions and gut feelings.  These certainly should not be ignored, but by going straight to the target audience, you will gain thoughts and opinions from people who may be less biased or less emotionally attached to a new development or service.  It helps gain a new angle, hopefully a compromise in just how you are going to go about a new launch, a new brand or a brand repositioning.

In a nutshell, market research is an invaluable tool that, at first, might seem expensive and slow, but it’s nothing more than an investment. As one of our very good clients always says, “ Best to measure twice and cut once to maximise your returns”.

If you had the choice of speaking to a good sample of your customers or be left in the dark only with your assumptions, what would you choose?

Marilia Spindler is an Account Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

“You want the truth .. you can’t handle the truth,” screamed Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise in the movie A Few Good Men.  Truth is, sometimes when we are so engrossed in our product/service/campaign we can’t see the wood for the trees and as a result judgements can be skewed.

This is where a Focus Group can take the leading role.

Invaluable in the marketing process they provide independent, in-depth research from the people that matter .. your customers (past, current, future) and, depending on the project, your team.

A focus group is used to gauge opinion on new products, campaigns, brand names, and services. Invited participants share their thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.

Focus Groups  are of real benefit helping to plan/confirm marketing strategy and tactics, develop key marketing messages and for some good old fashioned honest feedback.

1                     Planning the event

You should give careful consideration to the venue. For it to work best you need a relaxed setting (i.e. not your boardroom!). Members of the group should sit in circles ideally without a table in between them so that the group is as relaxed as possible. You should aim to have 6-8 people in each group.

At the beginning of the session, participants will be advised (by the facilitator) what the purpose of the meeting is (without leading them) and thank them for their involvement. They will be asked to be as honest and open as possible as every idea and feeling around the issue should be heard.

2                     Target Audience

For the best results, a representation of your target audience is required. This should include current, lapsed or potential customers. If you want to know how a campaign will connect, or how your new product will be used, you need to know from the horse’s mouth. It may sound obvious, however, it is often overlooked. On some occasions a sprinkling of none target audience will help give a different perspective, for example why are certain segments of your audience not engaging with you.

Organising Focus Groups within a company will help you achieve buy-in to a certain project, the participants welcome the opportunity to have input, and valuable feedback is provided.

3                     Facilitator

Focus Groups require an experienced facilitator. They are worth their weight in gold. They will help the session run smoothly, keeping it on track. Facilitators are highly experienced in encouraging feedback. They will ask open questions to ensure the best response and results.

A facilitator will read the mood of the group and be able to sense the energy and concentration levels. They will encourage quieter participants to contribute, and ensure any lively debates are managed carefully and sensitively.

A good facilitator will use different techniques to get the most from the session. They may for example ask the participants to record their answers in written form as well as verbally in an open session. They will encourage members of the group  to talk about their views in more detail.

Generally the facilitator will record answers on a whiteboard/flipchart so that all participants can see the information being recorded. This also acts as a visual prompt.

4                     Objectives

What is it that you want from your focus group? What do you want to know?

How will your audience connect emotionally with a new brand? How will they interact with a new product? How will they feel about a new campaign? Whatever the objectives are, you should  be clear from the outset what you want the outcomes to be. The facilitator will ensure that the session is formed around achieving these objectives.

5                     Timings

Allow between 45-60 minutes for a session. This should be enough time to gather opinion and understand the issues without participants losing interest. The questions or issues you have should be planned around these timings, allowing enough time for the outcomes to be uncovered.

6                     Key  Messages

Your focus group can help identify whether the key messages are working as you want them to be i.e. whether they are having the desired impact. Alternatively, focus groups can help identify the key messages that they would respond to in a real life situation.

7                     Results

A summary report should be produced for each focus group you hold. The information should be recorded in a consistent manner with the criteria and objectives clearly outlined and recorded. The data gathered will need skill and expertise to analyse.

Focus Groups are an essential part of the marketing mix, and when run correctly the information and insights they uncover are invaluable.

It may not always be the truth you thought it was, but you’ll feel far more capable of handling it.

The truth is, after all, out there …   (oops that’s a different film altogether 😉

Karen Lambert is an experienced strategic marketer and Managing Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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