Focus group research is a useful strategy-building tool for harvesting information from customers, competitor customers, suppliers, and employees. Focus groups are often an excellent starting point when scanning and uncovering opportunities for new products, branding, naming, positioning, and generating strategic options. A well designed focus group study can help decision makers understand the range of beliefs, opinions, and buying behavior among key segments.
Marketers love focus groups because it literally puts them in the same room as 8 to 10 segment members talk about their brand and competitor brands; about what they’d really like to have if they could; and the (sometimes) unusual ways they use the product or service. (Remember the ads about putting a box Arm and Hammer baking soda in refrigerator as a deodorant? That extended, years-long campaign to expand product use came from a customer comment in a focus group.)
Unlike internet marketing research surveys, this face-to-face qualitative market research experience with prospects and customers is a way to get the strategy team "next to the customer" and have a roundtable discussion regarding all your tough company survey questions. Expressions and attitudes are seen on faces and in body language, and heard from their voices. Often heard is the VP or CEO in the group observation room after two or three groups, Now I know what they really want. I heard it several times tonight. We’ve got to explore this opportunity.
This first hand involvement is good: it provokes creative thinking about how to attack the future.