How To Use A Strawman For Focus Groups To Get Feedback


Focus group market research is a good way to get prospective customer response and feedback. Presenting a product as a "strawman" is a good way to get feedback. Here's how to use a strawman for focus groups to get answers:

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It would be typical to recruit 6-8 focus groups, each comprising 8 or 9 people. The people recruited would be drawn from

  • your target market
  • expected customers
  • people who influence them and
  • non-customers.

Other people recruited would also include those with an attitude, in the market you are targeting (for example, deeply distrustful of big organisations) and in the life stage (single, married, etc) and socio-economic (occupation, income, etc) class.

Recommended reading: How To Get Customer Feedback That You Can Take Action On

Presenting a Strawman

The idea of presenting your product as a straw-man to prospective customers in focus groups is to give the customer an opportunity to get involved in what they all see as an unfinished or work-in-progress product. It's not a done-deal for them and they will be motivated by the opportunity to input into the final product.

The straw-man presentation form can be a prototype or sometimes better than this a storyboard which depicts the product graphically and how it might work for the customer, the benefits and the uses.

Structuring your focus groups 

The Groups would be brought together for 45 minutes or so and are facilitated through an agenda that could cover four parts. The facilitator's job is to move the group through the agenda and ensure all perspectives and views are explored and captured on audio-recorder. The four part agenda would cover:

  1. Introductions and warm up for the group
  2. Exploration of the groups experiences and knowledge of the general product category, that your product will compete in (e.g. buying a house)
  3. Hypothesize what the ideal buying process, provider and product might be
  4. Reaction and response to your "strawman"‚ the prototype and depiction of your product.

Make sure to take copious notes or if you can get permission to film the session for private analysis afterwards, that's even better.

Using a strawman in focus groups can generate excellent feedback to continue or refine development of your product or service, before you invest further in it.

Over to you now. How have you used a strawman in focus groups for your business? Tell us in the comments below.   

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