BrainTrust Query: Death of the Focus Group
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from the Retail Prophet Consulting blog.
research often attempts to predict future consumer behavior but the reality
is that consumers very often say things that don’t correspond at
all to what they eventually do in-store. In fact, there’s often a gaping
disconnect between a consumer’s needs as articulated in focus groups and
the basket of stuff that gets taken home from the store. If the two matched up
even the least bit closely, marketing would be a cinch, but they often don’t
and with good reason — consumers rarely have a clue why they do what they
do in stores! And in other cases, focus group participants simply don’t
tell the truth, which probably doesn’t come as any great shock.
been missing is what shoppers actually do in the store! This has largely been
the realm of anecdotal data and lab-based studies, both of which are often
That’s where I believe mobile apps, near field communication,
location based services and other intelligent retail technologies are poised
to revolutionize our approach to consumer and shopper research. For the first
time ever, researchers will be able to connect the expressed needs of consumers
with their actual, physical path to purchase. Questions like where they go
in the store and where don’t
they go, where they stop and what they race right by will finally be precisely
answerable. What’s critical is that marketers can view this kind of information
in aggregate according to what thousands of consumers do, not simply within
a narrow and controlled study group.
But understanding the consumer’s
physical path is only one of the new streams of data. The other and more important
stream will reveal what they actually engaged and interacted within the space.
Which in-store marketing messages did they connect with and for how long? Which
coupons did they download? Which products did they scan but put back without
buying? Marketers will see where consumers required more or less information
to make a decision and perhaps even when they compared prices with competitors
before deciding. Even insights on how different ages, sexes and races move
through a given retail environment are entirely possible.
can validate the reams of data they currently collect with credible information
on the consumer’s actual in-store behavior. This
presents a whole new world of opportunity to give retail consumers what they
want — potentially
without ever once asking them. It’s also a chance to better understand
the gap between what consumers say and what they do.
In fact, it’s entirely
possible that this new ability to validate in-store consumer behavior will
render front and back end consumer surveys a thing of the past.
How will access to consumer insights from mobile technologies affect traditional consumer research methods such as focus groups and surveys?