Focus groups – are they really dead?

Our friends at the clickadvisor blog seem to think that focus groups are dead. I know that a lot of Market Research companies and agencies use QuestionPro for quantitative research – what about qualitative?

Personally I would not use a focus group for anything we do here @ QuestionPro – why? – Well partly because I am in the software/service business – so our real cost of innovation (implementing new ideas) is actually not that high. It’s not like CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) – Kraft, P&G etc. — where the the cost of failure is not really incremental but generally catastrophic (OK – Not catastrophic but lets say non-trivial.) In our case, if we implement a feature (that no one uses, or is really underused) it’s not going to break the bank – In businesses that produce physical goods, there have high capital costs, untested/wrong product direction that can make or break companies.

I obviously am biased against using focus groups to determine product direction (given that we peddle IdeaScale every chance we get) — but I am curious what kind of requests market research companies out there are getting from your clients? — Are you still getting requests from your clients and stakeholders to conduct qualitative research using focus groups?

I wish organizations like CASRO or AMA or even magazines like Quirks put out reports on share of research types and usage (on an aggregate level.) — Most MR companies are members of CASRO or AMA, and a simple survey to all the members can give a decent snapshot on where the mindshare is headed.

Here is another (old) BW article slamming focus groups.

On a side note check out the YouTube Video about a focus group here : Pretty funny (Embedded below)

If you are in market research and have a story to share (about focus groups) please feel free to leave a comment below or if you have a good case-study (either pro or con) regarding focus groups please free to contact me directly blog [at] surveyanalytics [dot] com — I’ll compile a collective list and publish it in the blog for everyone else.

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