Show and Tell Focus Groups Tell Baby-Boomer Values
Baby boomers are a large consumer target for many products. and “show and tell” focus groups are providing the needed insight into the core values these boomers hold close to their hearts. The show and tell focus groups work in this manner. Participants are asked to bring in three or four items that represent their ideal environment. The items can be pictures or souvenirs; it does not matter as long as the participants are able to explain why they chose the items and how they fit into their ideal environment. Examples might include a father bringing in a good-luck fishing lure that his father gave to his grandchildren as a present or an elementary teacher bringing a copy of the book she has finally decided to write. Group discussion is then centered around these items, What qualitative research has uncovered about the baby boomers can be described by five specific themes
1. Quality family life is a major concern. The ability to have a positive impact on the lives of their children is extremely important. as is a tight-knit family unit that is supportive of each other. The horne is very important.
2. Long-term friendships help round out their identity outside of the workplace and home. Keeping in touch with friends is an integral element of the boomer lifestyle.
3. Taking the time to get away from the hassles of everyday life in the form of “getaway vacations” with family and friends helps to maintain finn understanding of what is important in life and recharge dying batteries.
4. Spiritual and physical fitness are important in leading a full. well-balanced life.
5. There is no such thing as a mid-life crisis. Life is too short to dwell on successes or .
This type of research is invaluable in designing advertising and promotional campaigns. It provides the necessary foundation for appealing to those values that are most important to the boomers and to those values that are most likely to stimulate their buying behavior. For example. the 2009 Honda Pilot SUV was marketed with the tag line “You’lI be ready for anything in the 2009 Pilot.” Honda emphasized both the exterior and interior features of the vehicle. so you can rough it in the middle of nowhere and still enjoy some of the comforts of home
Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings
Qualitative research in the fonn of focus groups and sensory feelings are important for customers. Such feelings cannot be uncovered by quantitative research. Depth interviews are conducted one-on-one and allow extensive probing of each respondent. Thus. it is possible to uncover underlying feelings (as well as values. beliefs. and attitudes). Several examples show how identifying consumers’ sensory feelings are crucial in designing products
• Ford: Ford decided to redesign one of its Taurus models. They remodeled the dashboard buttons. the rear fenders. and so on. They decided to change the door latches. However, there was a problem with the sound when somebody closed the door. It sounded weird. The latch made two thumps. which gave the impression to the user that something was wrong. even if there was no problem at all. Although consumers may not be aware of their own perceptions. they are very sensitive to sounds a car makes.
• Whirlpool: Whereas one might think that the perfect product would not make any noise, the case of Whirlpool denies it. Whirlpool launched a new refrigerator, a quieter one. However. customers called the company to complain about “the softer, water-gurgling sounds” of the model. People had the impression that the new refrigerator was the noisiest they had ever heard when it was actually the quietest ever manufactured.
• Estee Lauder: The cosmetics industry provides a lot of examples of qualitative research because cosmetics are an intimate product. For example. Estee Lauder changed the shape of its blue compact so it appeals more to the customer. The shape was redesigned by rounding the edges to make it softer and thus create a link with the round shape of a woman’s body
Primary Data: Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research
As was explained in primary data are originated by the researcher for the specific purpose of addressing the problem at hand. Primary data may be qualitative or quantitative in nature, as shown in Figure 5.1. The distinction between qualitative and quantitative research closely parallels the distinction between exploratory and conclusive research discussed in Chapter 3. The differences between the two research methodologies are summarized in Table 5.1.3
Qualitative research provides insights and understanding of the problem setting, while quantitative research seeks to quantify the data and, typically, applies some form of statistical analysis. Whenever a new marketing research problem is being addressed, quantitative research must be preceded by appropriate qualitative research. Sometimes qualitative research is undertaken to explain the findings obtained from quantitative research. However, the findings of qualitative research are misused when they are regarded as conclusive and are used to make generalizations to the population of interest,” It is a sound principle of marketing research to view qualitative and quantitative research as complementary, rather than in competition with each other.s Qualitative researchers can be located through the Qualitative Research Consultants Association which is the largest body of independent qualitative research consultants in the world.
The story goes that Alfred Politz, a strong proponent of quantitative research, and Ernest Dichter, a strong proponent of qualitative research, were having their usual debate about the merits of the two methods. Politz stressed the importance of large-scale. projectable samples. Dichter answered: “But, Alfred, ten thousand times nothing is still nothing!” As Dichter argued, mere quantification, when the underlying behavior of interest is nut well understood, will not lead to meaningful results. However, qualitative and quantitative research in combination can provide rich insights that can help in formulating successful marketing strategies, as in the case of Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Yogurt Blasts.
Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts Yogurt Blasts Blast Competition
Kellogg’s was in the process of developing a new extension of its popular Pop-Tarts product with a yogurt component. They wanted to determine the best name for this new product and approached BuzzBack for help. They had four possible options and wanted to find out which one mothers and children (the primary purchasers of Pop- Tarts) liked the best and why
The results of the survey indicated that both mothers and their children preferred Pop-Tarts Yogurt Blasts as the new name for the product. The qualitative data also suggested that they were fond of this new product because it offered a tasty, nutritional twist to the traditional Pop- Tart product. The product was launched with great success in June 2003 and was available in bojh strawb,erry and blueberry flavors. The suggested retail cost was $2.09 for an 8-count box. That ye’ar. Pop-Tarts were the number one brand in toaster pastries and one of Kellogg’s largest brands in the United States, despite increasingly strong competition in the toaster pastry market. Sales of Pop-Tarts continued to be strong through 2009.6
Rationale for Using Qualitative Research
There are several reasons to use qualitative research. It is not always possible, or desirable, to use fully structured or formal methods to obtain information from respondents (see Chapter 3). People ·may be unwilling or unable to answer certain questions. People are unwilling to give truthful answers to questions that invade their privacy, embarrass them, or have a negative impact on their ego or status. Examples of such sensitive questions include: “Ha ,e you recently purchased sanitary napkins? Drugs for nervous tension? Pills for anxiety?” Second, people maybe unable to provide accurate answers to questions that tap their subconscious. The values, emotional drives, and motivations residing at the subconscious level are disguised from the outer world by rationalization and other ego defenses. For example, a peTSon may have purchased an expensive sports car to overcome feelings of inferiority. However, if asked, “Why did you purchase this sports car?” he may say, “I got a great deal,” “Myoid car was falling apart,” or “I need to impress my customers and clients:’ In such cases, the desired information can be best obtained through quantitative research. As illustrated in the “Feelings” examples in the “Overview” section, qualitative research is also very useful for discovering which sensory feelings are important to customers
A Classification of Qualitative Research Procedures
A classification of qualitative research procedures is presented in Figure 5.2. These procedures are classified as. either direct or indirect, based on whether the true.purpose of the project is known to the respondents. A direct approach is not disguised. The purpose of the project is disclosed to the respondents or is otherwise obvious to them from the questions
asked. Focus groups and depth interviews are the major direct techniques. In contrast, research that takes an indirect approach disguises the true purpose of the project. Projective techniques, the commonly used indirect techniques, consist of association, completion, construction, and expressive techniques Each of these techniques is discussed in detail, beginning with focus groups
Focus Group Interviews
A focus group is an interview conducted by a trained moderator in a non structured and natural manner with a small group of respondents. The moderator leads the discussion. The main purpose of focus groups is to gain insights by listening to a group of people from the appropriate target market talk about issues of interest to the researcher. The value of the technique lies in the unexpected findings often obtained from a free-flowing group discussion
The major characteristics of a focus group are summarized in Table 5.2. A focus group generally includes 8 to 12 members. Groups of fewer than 8 are unlikely to generate the momentum and group dynamics necessary for a successful session. Likewise, groups of more than 12 may be too crowded and may not be conducive to a cohesive and natural discussion.l” A focus group should be homogeneous in terms of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Commonalty among group members avoids interactions and conflicts among group members on side issues. I I Thus, a women’s group should not combine married homemakers with small children, young unmarried working women, and elderly divorced or widowed women since their lifestyles are substantially different. Moreover, the participants should be carefully screened to meet certain criteria. The participants must have had adequate experience the object or issue being discussed. People who have already participated in numerous focus groups should not be included. These so-called professional respondents are atypical and their participation leads to serious validity problems.F
The physical setting for the focus group is also important. A relaxed. informal atmosphere encourages spontaneous comments. Light refreshments should be served before the session and made available throughout. Although a focus group may last from I to 3 hours. a duration of 15 to – 2 hours is typical. This period of time is needed to establish rapport with the participants and explore. in depth. their beliefs. feelings. ideas. attitudes. and insights regarding the topics of concern. Focus group intervies are invariably recorded. often on videotape. for subsequent replay. transcription. and analysis. Videotaping has the advantage of recording facial expressions and body movements. but it can increase the costs significantly. Frequently. clients observe the session from an adjacent room using a one-way mirror. Video transmission technology enables the clients to observe focus group sessions live from a remote location. For example. Stamford. Connecticut-based Focus Vision Network. Inc. offers such a videoconferencing system
The moderator plays a key role in the success of a focus group. The moderator must establish rapport with the participants. keep the discussion moving forward. and probe the respondents to elicit insights. In addition. the moderator may have a central role in the analysis and interpretation of the data. Therefore. the moderator should possess skill. experience. knowledge of the discussion topic. and an understanding of the nature of group dynamics. The key qualifications of the moderator are summarized in the accompanying Real Research example