Focus groups are popular because they’re easy to set up.  And they can be really useful in getting feedback on how to improve product or service functionality. And that’s important.

But they’re much weaker when it comes to emotional understanding. That’s especially true if you’re trying to surface what people really want from your brand, offer or campaign.

Here are three focus group issues and their 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.

“Linguabrand got inside the minds of women with breast cancer just by listening deeply to their blogs. It gave us the evidence we needed to shift our client’s conversation away from cancer as battle”

Pete Dewar, Director of Brand Language, The Clearing