Focus groups are designed almost entirely for the convenience of researchers.
They’re easy to set up. But they’re seriously misleading if you move beyond function
to motivations and intentions. We know. Because we’ve measured it.
Group discussions contain only half the normal level of the picture words people
use to project their thinking. This shows respondents are holding back. Here are
the big three focus group problems and the deep listening answers:
1. Focus groups fib
You’re hearing someone’s ‘projected-self’. How
they want to be perceived, not how they are.
Group members give you rational answers –
but people don’t behave rationally.
Our deep social listening often finds answers
without even asking questions. If there’s no social
conversation on your subject we work on
one-to-ones and scale this up online.
2. Moderators pollute thinking
Moderators nearly always talk too much – they like
to be liked, it’s natural. But we’ve measured how this
drives group thinking. Very often you’re just hearing
the group echo the researcher’s view of the world.
We’re world experts in ‘Clean Language’.
It’s specifically designed to surface respondents’
own thinking frames. And we barely talk, just
listen. This minimises moderator pollution.
3. Respondents Conform
In groups, and in strange places, feeling safe is the
psychological priority. So people conform to group
norms, giving you a false sense of agreement.
We don’t do consumer groups. We work with multiple
individuals online, so you’re hearing from people in
their homes or out and about with their mobiles.
If you’re still considering focus groups try switching to deep listening. It costs no more,
the results are more robust and way more valuable.