Iterative Focus Groups

All marketers seem to be under incredible pressure to get their product or service “out the door” quickly and of course, well-tested and positioned for success. The challenge for many is doing all the necessary qualification steps in the allocated time. Perhaps, you should consider adding iterative focus groups to your arsenal of qualification “tricks”. So, what are iterative focus groups and how can they help?

To conduct iterative qualitative research, you select your primary target and schedule a number of back-to-back research sessions over a period of a few days. The research session often benefits from a combination of methodologies (focus groups, triads, one-on-ones, in context); however, the target needs to stay stable so you learn cumulatively from the consumer over the time period. Key to a successful process is a committed team for the entire research period and smart scheduling to allow for rework and rethinking.

An iterative focus groups allows for several advantages:

1. Dynamic improvement – The flexibility of the process combined with hands-on working sessions allows for the team to continually enhance the product or the concept being developed. In the case of a product, between research sessions a food product recipe can be tweaked for better flavor or a website design can be adjusted for better usability and logical flow. Similarly, a written concept can be adjusted to better reflect consumer language and/or how they think about the offering.

2. More “finalized” end product – The nature of iterative works allows for the dynamic improvement mentioned above. As a result, over 3 days a team can technically move from an idea to a finished concept if the entire team listens attentively and embraces the suggestions offered by the respondents. This can be for any variety of topics; iterative research does not need to be used for only product and concept development. I’ve successfully worked with companies on graphic design, package structural design, and print/TV advertising that benefited from continual improvement in a compressed time period.

3. Enhanced Teamwork – The nature of the process requires that the entire team be invested for the duration of the work. Although this requires a 3+ day commitment out of the office, the team works closely together and moves the product/service idea forward together with mutual agreement and respect. In a typical office environment, this could take weeks of meetings and discussions to align the team. The process vests the team and they “hold hands” and move forward removing that costly rework and the last minute “new idea” that someone grabs onto in the 11th hour that throws the development cycle into a tailspin.

So on your next development project, consider using your qualitative research in a new way for accelerated learning and better output.

Copyright 2007 The Rite Concept – May not be reproduced without expressed permission

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