February 2014

Shugoll Research On the Record

On the Record is Shugoll Research's regular examination of market research in Washington, DC and around the country. In this edition, we are discussing children's focus groups and what to look for during your focus group sessions.

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Nearly two in five children have used a tablet or Smartphone before they could speak in full sentences.

A new report reveals 38% of children under the age of two have used a mobile device for watching videos, playing games or other media-related purposes. The study, conducted by advocacy organization Common Sense Media, surveyed parents of children newborn to age eight on their media habits. Read more about the study's findings at Mashable.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

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Old MacDonald had a focus group

Little tykes know how to get those big-ticket items from mom and dad. They drop little clues about what they can't possibly live without. One good way to find out what youthful influencers are thinking is to interact with them in focus groups or observe them at home. These research methods can yield valuable information. They can show you how children feel about a product and help you gain insight into the best way to motivate kids to ask their parents to buy it.

Here are a few tips for conducting a focus group study with kids:

  • Make your groups no larger than six at a time. You'll be able to keep better control and each child will be more likely to participate.
  • Run each group no longer than 60 minutes. This way you'll have enough time to get the information before attention spans start to wane.
  • Make sure to plan for unstructured play time. And have your product handy, so you can see how the kids interact with it.
  • Don't put more than two grade levels together so you can create a safe and homogeneous environment for sharing.
  • If you're working with children age four to six, interview the parent(s), then the kids. You'll learn a lot by comparing answers.
  • If the kids are pre-teen or older, split them by gender. This will avoid teasing, flirting and embarrassment.

As an alternative to focus group research, consider observing children at home in their natural environment. Observing them in their own home, you can gain insights into how a particular product fits into their activities and lifestyles.

I just influenced countless consumers. I am no longer a child.

Focus Groups: What To Focus On

A well run focus group can provide you with a wealth of information. You may not always get exactly what you were expecting, but if you know what to look for, it can be well worthwhile. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Every group is a brand new experience. All groups are not the same. Each one has a different makeup, with different group dynamics. So don't expect to see reruns of previous discussions.
All for one? Fuggedaboutit? Don't assume you'll see a consensus. Members love to spout their own "unique" viewpoints. That's why they came!
Keep an open mind. You'll hear things you don't agree with. Don't just pick out the comments you agree with. Listen to the full discussion. You'll learn a lot!
Bodies talk. Make sure you're watching. Non-verbal behavior often says more than conversation about how someone feels. Look for defensive behavior, antagonism, and reluctance to sharing.
Be patient. Don't expect every moment of the discussion to be meaningful or quotable. Expect peaks and valleys.
Give the moderator some latitude. A resourceful moderator will find creative ways of probing to get in-depth responses. Don't require a rigid script to be used. And don't send a lot of notes into the room. It can distract the moderator and the group.
Boring is good. Don't expect every group to entertain you. Boring groups can provide exciting insights.
Look beyond what she's wearing. Don't get hung up on how a respondent looks, dresses or acts. Focus on the information you're looking to learn.
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