That hammer is a lousy screwdriver
10/24/12 / David Kennedy
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.