And You Thought Focus Groups Were Expensive!
The bowls of M&Ms, the soft drinks, the boxed sandwiches for the research team. The costs of a focus group really add up, don’t they? Well, suppose you brought in a troupe of improvisational comedians for the group. What would that cost? Um, how does $65,000 sound? That is a steep price for innovation, but one of the largest market research companies in the world thinks it might sell. The idea is to create an interactive event where consumers think, react, and give input in a completely new way. As Ad Age describes it:
Improvisational actors portray scenes based on the feedback that a panel of consumers gives to brand concepts sourced from marketers. The idea is that consumers will be more open and truthful when they are laughing and interacting with actors in a theater, rather than confined to a sterile conference room.
“There is a fearlessness that exists with consumers in this environment because we’ve made it O.K. for them to say whatever,” said Cheryl Stallworth-Hooper, CEO of Millward Brown’s Firefly unit, which handles qualitative research.
Hmmm. I don’t know. Sounds fun, but honestly, skillful focus group moderators have little trouble getting consumers to open up, be truthful, and say whatever. And the same is true for quant research. Most survey respondents generously (and truthfully) share ideas, opinions, and reactions. It’s just a matter of good design to make that happen.
$65K is a lot of research money, especially when compared to an average of $12,000 for a regular focus group. And there are lots of innovative, qualitative research techniques that are sure-bets for delivering deep insights (ethnographies, real-time feedback with in-the-field mobile, peer parties, and so on) some of which can be done with amazing cost efficiency.
Still, I’d love to attend one of these groups, just to see if they can make me laugh and deliver on the promise of insight. I’m very serious about research 😉, and very serious about making every dollar count.