Ah, 2012 is on the horizon and with a new year comes new opportunities for marketers to dig deep into the psyche of their consumers and find new ways to engage them with their brands. This deep dig for information often leads companies to invest heavily into research—including the beloved focus group. We create our targets, reserve our conference rooms and order the traditional snacks—all in hopes of getting the right information about our customers.
But, when your primary customer is Mom, you might want to re-think your traditional focus group strategy. In the new book, Pursestrings: New, Proven Ways Of Reaching The Hearts And Minds Of Female Consumers, co-author Amanda Stevens shares an epiphany she had after sharing a lovely lunch with her friends: “It occurred to me that day that if some of my clients could have listened in on this conversation, they would have learned more about women in two hours than they would listening to a hundred hours of focus groups.”
Some of her strategies for focus group success:
Think Dinner Parties: “Banish the sterile research room and re-create a relaxed environment where women naturally divulge and share,” says Stevens. For moms, you want to make sure this environment is kids-free by offering childcare options.
Encourage Storytelling: Move away from the list of standard research questions and begin your exploration by asking attendees to tell you about themselves and their lives—every mom has a story that is often not captured in traditional research. “This invitation for storytelling may give you all-important insights,” adds Stevens.
Make It An Experience: Stevens suggests rewarding group participants with product samples or vouchers as well as making sure the food and drink you serve is the kind you would if your best friend were coming to dinner. “Don’t underestimate the power of a small advocacy group,” says Stevens. “Use your research investment to create a small array of walking ambassadors.”
Watch for the Half-Truths: As Mary Quinlan states in her book, What She’s Not Telling You, “a half-truth is what women are willing to admit, the whole truth is what they really believe, do and buy.” So, how do you get moms to tell you the whole truth? Listen…really listen. “Be prepared to challenge responses and make it okay for women tell the whole truth, even it’s an answer that makes her uncomfortable,” says Stevens.