Posts Tagged ‘focus groups’

Do-it Yourself Focus Groups

August 23, 2010

The unstructured nature of focus groups enables marketers and businesses to draw out ideas, perceptions, feelings, and experiences from prospective customers that might not be possible to extract through structured quantitative approaches like surveys. By using focus groups, businesses can come up with ideas for new products and services; lay the groundwork for surveys and advertising campaigns by understanding the vocabulary customers use when describing products and services; understand why customers feel the way they do and their needs; and understand the findings from quantitative research.

Focus groups can be very expensive, yet doing them without careful organization can be disastrous to your marketing efforts. Yesterday’s episode of Your Business, on MSNBC, had a segment on “Do-It Yourself Focus Groups.” The segment covered the following 10 topics/tips when doing your own focus groups:

  1. Why have a focus group?
  2. How do you get started?
  3. Who do you choose (to participate)?
  4. Choose current customers
  5. Choose former customers
  6. Choose employees
  7. Start with a “Trend Question”
  8. Go around the room
  9. Ask for a rating
  10. Follow-up is key.

Although Analysights doesn’t presently do focus groups, we thought we’d share this information with those of you who are interested. Here’s a link to the 3 ½ minute segment. Enjoy!

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Help us Reach 200 Fans on Facebook!

Thanks to all of you, Analysights now has more than 160 Facebook fans! We had hoped to get up to 200 fans by this past Friday, but weren’t so lucky. Can you help us out? If you like Forecast Friday – and our other posts – then we want you to “Like” us on Facebook! And if you like us that much, please also pass these posts on to your friends who like Insight Central and invite them to “Like” Analysights! By “Like-ing” us on Facebook, you’ll be informed every time a new blog post has been published, or when new information comes out. Check out our Facebook page! You can also follow us on Twitter. Thanks for your help!

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Secondary Research Can Enhance Primary Research

August 4, 2010

Most of the marketing research a small business owner or startup entrepreneur does is secondary: research that has already been conducted by another entity for some other purpose, and later published in mass media sources. Often, businesses rely upon secondary research for marketing information because conducting their own primary research can be very expensive. While one must be careful to understand the purpose for and methodology by which the secondary research was conducted, it can be quite beneficial in many ways, including enhancing primary research. Secondary research provides the following benefits:

Setting the Stage for Future Primary Research

Sometimes you have no clue what you’re trying to find. Let’s say that you want to start a coffee shop in your town, but because of the likes of Starbucks and Caribou Coffee, you’re not sure whether your market is saturated, or if there is a way to differentiate yourself. Secondary research can be an invaluable tool to help you explore. The Yellow Pages, the Web sites of chain stores – Starbucks, Caribou, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s – selling coffee, and the entertainment sections of newspapers can tell you how much competition you’re facing.

Secondary research might even be able to help you identify demographics of your community that you can use to your advantage. You examine the Census Bureau’s demographic data for the ZIP codes within a five-mile radius of your proposed location. You notice from other sources that there are about 10 competing eating and drinking establishments like those we named above. But from the Census data, you uncover a sizeable ethnic Middle Eastern or Eastern Mediterranean population. You might be able to refine your business concept to be a coffee shop that specializes in selling Eastern Mediterranean style coffees, or medium- to highly- acidic variety coffees, as is common in the Middle East. Now, you can do some basic primary research like small-scale surveys and focus groups to members of the community to see how receptive they would be to a coffee shop with that theme.

Reducing the Scope and Cost of Primary Research

Why spend $20,000 on a full-scale primary research project if you can find available data to meet a large amount of your needs? For example, you’re trying to find out what types of Middle Eastern coffees are selling well in the area. Conducting a survey can be very costly. But if you can find out what you need to know from trade publications covering the food and beverage industries, you might be able to save yourself quite a bit of time and money. Assume you read that a few kinds of Middle Eastern coffees are selling well – or are on an increasing trend – in various parts of the country. Now, you might order a few pounds of each, and then invite local residents to do a taste test and give their thoughts. Your secondary research has saved you thousands of dollars and several days of fieldwork.

Putting Primary Research Results in Perspective

You can even use secondary research to help validate what you find in your primary research. If you were to conduct a survey of your coffee shop’s customers and ask them what kinds of pastries you might serve in your shop, you might see a lot of responses suggesting berry-flavored cobblers and scones, pastries containing cinnamon or cardamom, and even some chocolate. By doing your secondary research, you will also find that, in the Eastern Mediterranean, berries, cinnamon, and cardamom are common flavor pairings, since coffees of that region tend to have berry- and wine-like characteristics, with some element of spice and cocoa. Secondary research, in this case, has validated what your primary research is indicating.

Most times, secondary research is all the marketing research you’ll need to do. However, when you need to do primary research, a good, ongoing system of secondary research can help you discover new information so that you can explore and pursue different avenues in your primary research; fill in several blanks in your research so that you need not reinvent the wheel; and complement any primary research so you can substantiate its findings.