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The Mirrored Window

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The Mirrored Window

Focus Groups from a Moderator's Point of View

Paramount Market Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Sex, greed, fear and other consumer motivations as revealed through qualitative research conducted with focus groups.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


The hidden persuaders of marketing have come out of their mazes to explain willingly how they probe people to find out what makes them tick and why they buy one product instead of another. Everybody knows about surveys and nose counting from political polls and other quantitative research. Now Judith Langer covers qualitative research (QR), the established, but often less explained, way to find out what consumers like and dislike on a deeper level. She notes the advantages and disadvantages of focus group set-ups that allow marketers' clients to hide behind big one-way mirrors, and watch and hear representative customers responding to their product. QR's chief drawback and the reason some companies prohibit it, Langer notes, is that some clients find it "vague," and are uncomfortable with its surveillance tactics. getAbstract recommends this authoritative look behind the one-way mirror to those who deal with focus group results.


Focus Group Tactics and Results

Qualitative research is a type of business motivation research methodology that works "without the numbers." It uses many types of psychological, sociological and even anthropological theories and testing methods to probe the consumer's mindset. QR often relies on focus groups that represent the product's ultimate consumers. Sponsoring organizations use it to answer such attitudinal questions as: What sort of people are our customers? How do they think in general, about themselves, our company, our products and ads? How do our customers live? What do they need and how do we as a company satisfy those needs? Do they like our new products; why do they buy or not buy them? How can we reach them?

Sometimes marketing clients have a lot of know-how and already understand the answers to such questions; other times they live in total vacuums. However, a client’s knowledge, based on accumulating and interpreting general statistics and business minutiae, may simply be inadequate. For instance, marketers often cite key demographics in terms of "households" – how many, in what cities and how much they spend annually by product areas. However, households...

About the Author

Judith Langer has been a QR practitioner since l970 and has moderated focus groups for many major companies.

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