Two examples of this effective technique show you how you can set up your own focus groups.
The concept of focus groups simply involves gathering a few your target market customers together, and then putting a series of questions to them.
It’s best to get an outside person to conduct this type of research, because you’re probably too close to the issues and may end up ignoring the results anyway.
Either employ a marketing person or contact one of your local institutions that offers a marketing education course, and get the students to conduct the research on your behalf.
Brian Olorenshaw, a Marketing Consultant, comments on two small businesses he has helped in recent years.
‘Focus groups are excellent for obtaining information that is usually very hard to collect, specifically, how people really feel about your business. Anyone can simply tick a box on a questionnaire, but this information can often be misleading as it is easy to tell little white lies.
These lies take the form of ticking the boxes that you think the person asking the questions wants to see. People also exaggerate their own importance by ticking the boxes that they would like to relate to.
Now I would argue that the people who complete these questionnaires very rarely tell the truth or the options given to them do not quite describe their situation. A focus group would solve that.
The key to a good focus group is:
Between five to 10 people make an ideal group. A facilitator, or person controlling the group, introduces the questions, and then makes sure everyone has a say and no one wanders off the topic.
Two examples of focus group market research I carried out were for a dry-cleaning business and a business manufacturing Mediterranean-type foods.
A focus group was arranged, and the following information was found:
This information was used:
This small business produces Mediterranean food products, and a focus group was set up to look at the pita bread they sold to supermarkets. Information found included:
This information gave the company ideas on what benefits to push when promoting the product, and what to say on the packaging.
Also, before launching into the supermarkets, prices were raised from original levels, giving the business a higher margin. So pricing in this case ended up being customer-led pricing, not cost-plus pricing.
These two examples show how focus groups offer you a relatively cheap method of obtaining relevant market research to help you make the right decisions about your small business.