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Focus Groups Take the Cake!

I started getting involved with coordinating focus groups at Tipping Point Communications this summer. At first I had no idea what a focus group was or why it was so important to hold them. As I started to get more involved, it made me wonder: who came up the idea to observe people giving their opinions on certain topics?

As my wonder turned to curiosity, I decided to do a little research. Focus groups were being held before World War II. By the 1950s, focus groups were common practice among marketers. Even President Clinton was known to hold focus groups during his presidency to gauge voters’ interest.

One of the most fascinating examples I discovered had to do with the way instant cakes were made. In the 1950s Ernest Dichter coined the term “focus group.” He was known as a consumer marketing guru. Instant cake sales were at an all-time low, but no one could figure out why. Dichter held a focus group composed of women who were homemakers. In the focus group, researchers learned that women enjoyed the convenience of the instant cake, but felt guilty for the process being too easy. Betty Crocker added the extra step of adding a fresh egg to the mix and sales skyrocketed. The women baking the cakes wanted to feel like they were contributing to making the cake.

As Focus Group Coordinator for Tipping Point Communications, I’ve learned so much about the art of focus groups. From the initial phone call to holding the focus group itself, there are so many moving pieces. My favorite part of the process is the day of the group. I love meeting the clients and participants. In my opinion, the best feature of our facility is the remote viewing room. The room is filled with wild plants and has interesting artwork. The view from the remote viewing room is spectacular, and clients love it. Please give me a call at 585-340-1119 if you would like a tour or more information!

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