June 2nd, 2008

Blogs the New Focus Groups?

Focus groups feel so old-school.  Marketers have been doing them forever and the methodology really hasn’t changed all that much since that “Mad Men” era.   With the crazy amounts of consumer-generated media available to marketers, it is odd that we would even bother convene focus groups to tell us what consumers think about the brands we represent: people are telling us–and the world–without our asking.  It seems that some companies are latching on to this new media better than others and using blog communities to gather relevant insights.  As reported in AdWeek:

“Now firms with expertise ranging from research and word of mouth to digital media are setting up closed communities for clients to tap into the nuances, the spontaneity and the language of consumers engaging in a leisurely change, a different dynamic to one where they sit face-to-face in a focus group for a prescribed period of time.  Some of the initiatives focus on a specific topic for a couple of weeks; others create a longer, ongoing conversation.

“‘…when you are a running a qualitative blog: You have people for 10 to 15 days, which is a huge  amount of time for them to think about their answers and to challenge your own questions, which makes a big difference in results.  What people say when they talk together is more interesting than what they say when they talk to us.  What they say peer to peer is more sincere and sometimes very intimate.”

One thought on “Blogs the New Focus Groups?

  1. This doesn’t seem all that new to me. I’ve moderated focus groups for almost 30 years and I have always told my clients that this was just one source of understanding customers. The best customer relationship management remains evidence-based. But, as always, every thing – even the new media – require substantial judgement. And as always, you have to really be careful about your sample; who do they really represent? If the new media help you see the patterns clearer, serve your customers better; then by all means add them to your toolkit. But the hammer is still a pretty good tool for driving nails. Focus groups still have their use.

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