They have in their nature and name the word “group” and group dynamics are very different from the intimate nature of how human beings actually prefer one product over another. It is a fact that we all act and speak differently in a group than we do in private. Yet, the private moments are when purchase decisions are made.
One client that hired us told us that they had already done focus groups and that we could skip the qualitative portion (the one-on-one interviews we require before going into the field with quantitative research) and save money.
Luckily, they listened to our reasoning and we conducted our familiar one-on-one interviews (and they ended up growing their market share by 18%).
A most revealing insight was repeated over and over again that we later tested and turned out to be the highest emotional intensity in the category. Yet, it had never been voiced in any of the dozens of focus groups conducted previously. The reason was very simple because everyone who mentioned it started the sentence timidly by saying, “I know it may seem silly but I believed…” There you have it. No one wants to appear silly in front of a group.
Focus groups may be less expensive but in our experience they will cost you more than you bargained for. (Listen here to a short interview we gave about focus groups.)