Who Do You Trust?

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‘Respondents’…

They willingly sacrifice a night with friends, family, lovers, the TV.

They're happy to give up an evening reading a good book, watching their favourite soap, having fantastic sex, enjoying a beer with mates, tucking into some good food, mucking around with their kids.

They’ve all done this before (whatever they might claim).

They turn up to some of the bleaker commercial estates in the land.

They don’t mind answering absurd questions (for anything up to two and half hours) about something they usually ignore or pay barely any attention to in real life.

They’re happy to talk (for anything up to two and half hours) about the stuff that interrupts their entertainment.

They’re happy to talk (for anything up to two and half hours) about the stuff that frequently insults their intelligence.

They’re happy to talk (for anything up to two and half hours) about the stuff they believe has no effect on what they actually buy.

They know they’re being paid to talk.

They do this in the company of a bunch of total strangers.

They don’t mind being spied upon through a one-way mirror by a bunch of people they’ll never meet.

And if they’re lucky they’ll get to eat some tawdry sandwiches.

 

So… knowing all this, how much do we really trust their views and opinions on the embryonic creative ideas we put before them in focus groups?

 

Just asking.


 

4 comments

  1. andreea

    excellent.
    It is a bit of a grim view on respondents but your point is very much valid – however, if taken with a heavy pinch of salt (a bucket more like it) some things in focus groups can help. It may spark *that* idea which you desperately needed to push the brief a bit further (in some cases). You could argue that if you need this sort of help to push things forward something is a bit wrong but I doubt that anyone wants to do bad work on purpose. You have to make the most out of what you have with the constraints imposed by client & co.

  2. Carol L. Weinfeld

    That “they know they’re being paid to talk” and that “they are happy to talk” puts a slant on the outcome and on the information we receive. It is better data when consumers volunteer information in conversations. That is difficult to achieve in the artificial environment of focus groups. Thus we should be aware of this artificiality and realize that we cannot completely trust the opinions of focus group respondents.
    @clweinfeld

  3. Martin Weigel

    Andreea,
    “I doubt that anyone wants to do bad work on purpose.”
    You’re absolutely right. Though I don’t think that excuses anyone. Or anything!
    .. Who was it that said “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”?

  4. Martin Weigel

    Carol,
    Agreed… though I think the best insights often come from a combination of personal introspection (we’re all human beings after all) and observation (rather than interrogation)

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