The resurgence of face to face focus groups in Australia has been hidden away from the eyes of many people who presumed that advances in communication and technology would have replaced the need to host focus groups in person. In fact, face to face focus groups have been booming in our corner of the world because of technology.
This came clearly to mind for me when I was at The City Group Rooms in Sydney recently doing what I always do which is to hang anxiously around the waiting rooms for my respondents to arrive. Unable to alter the habits of a working life-time, I was also watching what was happening around me. All seven rooms at the city venue were fully booked with many double shifts, so there were people everywhere. Seriously, this place never seems to stop.
We have just been doing some ‘consumer testing’ with people who have managed funds. As ever, when you use a technique like this you learn more and more about how to do it well. This time it occurred to me that people react to information in almost the same way that they interact with people.
We use a hybrid method where we first collect data, and then conduct a qualitative interview so we are able to measure reactions but also gain qualitative insight.
Why are we applauding our financial services clients?
The financial services that many organisations provide to their customers are complex. These services can be difficult to understand and even harder to explain. Some organisations have recognised this complexity, and have done all they can to ensure that their customers knew what they were buying. The regulations required them to offer a PDS or Prospectus, but they went over and above what was specifically asked for. They tested their documentation with customers. (This is called 'consumer testing'). Those of our clients who did this - we applaud you!
It has never been so important for brands to write clearly and effectively to their customers, yet the techniques most research agencies use to test written communications have not kept up with the times.
Many clients still use focus groups, because that is how they have always tested advertising.
I love focus groups, but here are three reasons why we need to test written communications such as brochures, websites and correspondence individually, not in groups.