6 responses

  1. William Newman
    June 29, 2011

    I don’t think we use focus groups enough and deteriorate into meeting cesspools out of habit. Focus groups aren’t just for product testing – they kick around ideas in ways less structured brainstorming techniques can’t consider.

  2. Bill Casey
    June 30, 2011

    Jesse, nice list. I’ve seen focus groups used — sometimes unintentionally — as a way to support the predisposition of managers or design teams. I think your pointers might help people get at the real nuggets. Thanks!
    Bill

    • Jesse Jacoby
      Jesse Jacoby
      June 30, 2011

      Bill,
      Thanks for the comment. You make a great point.
      I, too, have seen focus groups (mis)used by management to validate existing biased views and opinions vs. exploring/probing issues in a truly open-ended manner. This is why it pays to have an objective, third-party consultant design and facilitate the focus groups instead of using members of the in-house project team.
      -J

  3. Barbara Pando-Behnke
    June 30, 2011

    Thanks Jesse -

    This is really very practical and helpful information, as someone who has conducted focus groups before, but without knowing best practices in doing so.

    I’m curious to hear any thoughts you have on conducting on-line focus groups, if you can. Thanks, Barbara

    • Jesse Jacoby
      Jesse Jacoby
      June 30, 2011

      Barbara,
      I’m glad to hear you found the information helpful.
      In terms of conducting focus groups online, it’s not ideal. In-person is always best because of the interplay of comments and the all-important nonverbal feedback. Having said that, with a robust technology environment you could potentially conduct a virtual focus group. You would need to be able to see the group or each participant individually on the screen — envision the Brady Bunch tv show intro :) Certain news programs, like CNBC, occassionally do this by showing multiple talking heads on the screen at once. Again, you need a fairly robust technology set-up to do this effectively, and most companies do have the infastructure to do it well.
      -J

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