We’ve spoke about the best tool for market research before (there isn’t one) and even used the hammer analogy in previous posts.  We’ve even spoke about how Apple doesn’t believe in market research.

So this article from Fast Company describing why focus groups kill innovation shouldn’t be a surprise to us.  And it isn’t.  I agree.  The real surprise is that we still talk about this – asking people about something for which they have no context is difficult at best.  This article did touch on the “extra research” used to understand the “entire cleaning experience” and I think that’s the real point here – that there are forms of research to understand these unmet needs (the article didn’t mention it, but it was likely observational/ethnographic research in this case).

Perhaps I’m beating a dead horse here (with a hammer?), but focus groups have their uses, such as obtaining feedback on improvements, advertising concepts, and exploratory research, to name a few.  If focus groups did not work at all they wouldn’t be one of the most popular forms of research.

Just like those satirical reviews on Amazon, this is like reviewing a product  for which it isn’t designed.  Just as a hammer is really good at hammering, it is pretty lousy at driving a screw.