Focus groups · Brand Development

Brand identity - does running a traditional focus group help?

Yaniv Levi

October 30th, 2015

We are going to introduce an online personal finance service that would require our audience to link their bank and credit card accounts for the technology to help them reduce spending and increase savings.

Our goal with running a focus group is to understand what would be the right way to build our brand identity. Talking to our potential audience would help us know what are their pains? which habits do they have? which approach would make them trust us with linking their accounts? what language do they use when talking about it?

Do you think running a focus group could achieve those objectives?

Nick Imrie Experienced digital MD, Senior Marketing Executive & Board Advisor

October 30th, 2015

As an ex Brand & Marketing Director (while ago now ;-) i think that although they are reducing in use (and rightly so) they are still good when:

- Relatively Little Is Known At All About A Given Subject (Product, Service, Etc.)

The number of issues (variables) is large - i.e. because its open and exploratory  the moderator could stimulate discussion on ideas not anticipated....

The point of them is that there is normally as much discussion between the participants as anything else so you need to be convinced the group would feel comfortable potentially sharing personal and in this case financial information....

Like all research (i tun a user experience company) the profiling of the participants is key....

Lee-Sean Huang Cofounder/Creative Director at Foossa. I'm a service/venture designer, storyteller, educator, and community-builder.

October 30th, 2015

Hi Yaniv. I'm a design research and brand strategy practitioner and professor. In my experience, I find focus groups more useful when you have concrete prototypes or concepts to share and to get feedback on. At the stage that it sounds like you are at, I would recommend doing some in-depth ethnographic research and contextual inquiry with some representative users first to inform your ideation and prototyping. Then, use focus groups as a way to get feedback around these ideas. 

Jerome Pineau Chief Digital Officer

October 30th, 2015

I don't see why not but that can get really expensive and of limited statistical value - why not use social/community to build an online focus group/ideation center - then eventually turn it into your customer community?


October 30th, 2015

Hi I agree with Lee-Sean Huang in that the groups will be more useful if they have something to react to. Positioning a brand identity from a focus group is possible, but it will require a tight strategic brief. It will require a creative team to be able to derive meaning from the brief and position the brand in a way that is meaningful to consumers.

If it were my decision, I would do 2 - one as information gathering (although this can be done more effectively online - and with a much broader group) - then devise a creative strategy that is executable. Then I would test.

I hope you have a good creative team who can transcend this potential morass of information and directions and create something meaningful.

Steven Mason Brand Strategist & Ideator; Patent Strategist; Patent Broker; Negotiation Expert

October 30th, 2015

Yaniv: It's possible to get some value out of people's pains, even in a focus group. More so, in my view, than you'd get if you were testing a specific product or package. But if you run one, I'd recommend you read my LinkedIn article against them: *It's Time To Bury Focus Groups, Not To Praise Them *for a contrary viewpoint and to be able to consider some of the common problems that befall them: ?trk=prof-post Best, Steven

Aaron Glinski Digital Marketing Specialist at Vinyl Interactive

October 30th, 2015

If you have the funds to do it, do it. I've run focus groups before and it's helped me in the past. You just have to make sure you have everything planned out. My typical planning stage for a focus group is 1 to 2 months. 

Yaniv Levi

November 1st, 2015

Thank you all for the great advice. I am running 3 focus groups (2 hours each) in Kansas City this month. Our product concept is well defined and we intend to present it to the group during the last part of each session (45 mins) to get their reaction. I will write back here to let you know my conclusion.