When you’re planning on investing a lot of time and money into a product idea, it’s important that you never presume to know your market. It might seem like common sense to you that people will need the invention you’ve come up with, but once you actually release it, you could end up being surprised. There may be factors that you overlooked, or it may be that a design element would put off a large part of your demographic. There is also a chance that the demographic you choose to target might not be the right one.
Hence, it’s important to do your market research before you go ahead with your launch, and before you even spend too much time and money on your product idea. One great way to conduct this market research is by organizing a focus group. Do be aware that it can be a relatively nerve wracking and difficult process.
What You’ll Need
To conduct a focus group, you’re going to need a few things, the first being a venue. A coffee shop will work for this, but if possible, you’ll be better off going somewhere quiet – hiring a conference room for instance. You might also want to print some information sheets and potentially setup a way to record the proceedings for subsequent analysis.
Most important of all though, you will need a sample: a selection of people that are representative of the people you will be marketing your product to. It’s important to try and avoid bias in your sample, so make sure that you have a good range of ages, genders, cultures and income-bands. Otherwise, the final results will be skewed. You may find that you need to use an incentive to get your sample group together which could include paying them a tenner or perhaps just offering food. Note that the larger the group is the more data you’ll have to work with and the more representative the data will be.
Collecting the Data
From here, it will now be your job to direct the focus group and to ask questions, introduce yourself and generally play the showman a little. Your aim will be to get honest feedback regarding your product – whether they’d buy it, whether there are other features they’d like to see, what if anything is putting them off, etc. You can find suggestions for questions on the internet, but you may want to come up with some of your own if they are specifically relevant to the product you are developing. Avoid ‘leading’ or influencing the answers you get, but do try to get your participants to expand on their answers a little in order to gain more ‘qualitative’ data that can help to guide your design and marketing going forward.
Ultimately, this will be most effective if you try to create a relaxed and calm environment where your participants feel they can speak freely. Thank them for coming, don’t be afraid to chat and to learn about them and you might find that you get an enjoyable day out of it.