Focus Groups

Sometimes we don’t only want to know what people think.  We need to know why people think that.  That’s where focus groups are useful.

Focus groups are discussions with a much smaller group of people than participate in a survey.  But that small group allows us to dig much deeper into the thought process of our target group, whether they are voters or lobbyists and congressional staffers.  You don’t need a focus group to find out that congressional staffers are cynical.  But a focus group is a great tool to understand what breaks down that cynicism to present an effective message.

Focus groups are also a great way to test television ads.  You can see reactions live, and find out why participants reacted that way.  “This one was right in your face.  It was an explosion.”  …  “I pay enough in taxes already, and I hope I won’t be paying any more.”  “I liked that she had a choice, could stand on her own, and still supported him.”

Focus groups also present the opportunity to get responses through dial testing.  Dial testing allows us to supplement the give-and-take of a small group with a slightly larger sample of voters (often 30 at a time) registering their reactions second-by-second, allowing clients to see which line in a speech or ad was most — or least — effective.  And if there are a number of ideas to test before final production of ads, and the project calls for a large sample to make decisions on what to produce, online ad testing works well for that need.