A Specialist Branding and Communications Consultancy
Getting the best out of your focus groups?

Brand research focus groups provide a wealth of information and allow for deep insights, however there are some downsides to regular focus group discussions. Group conversations are sometimes hard to control and steer in a manner that still allows for maximum results, but more importantly there are social dynamics within a group setup that might skew discussion outcomes.

Whether the focus group comprises colleagues with hierarchical ties or people who’ve just met for the purpose of participating in the group, participants always react to each other. Some people are naturally dominant and extroverted while others only share their opinions when specifically prompted. Ideally all participants should be able to express themselves equally but in reality that rarely happens within a verbal setup.

This completely changes when people are given pictures to “talk”. At TPM we use a visual research technique called Visual Profiling™. This technique is based on the concept that we’ve all learned to adjust to our social environment when verbalising our thoughts and feelings, but when expressing ourselves visually we feel uninhibited and will reveal what we really think. We find that Visual Profiling™ eliminates all social pressure – this visual process breaks down inhibitions and barriers and allows participants to contribute what they feel and think openly and honestly – much more than they ever would verbally.

With Visual Profiling™ every participant gets an equal say and space to express their perceptions. Here social restrictions like peer pressure loose power simply because we all know how to say “the right thing” but have no clue how to choose “the right picture” – all are equal in this process.

If you use a group facilitation method that can also overcome these group dynamics’ shortcomings then we would love to gain your comments below!