How to Get Feedback Data You Can Use
I strongly suggest that your focus group concentrate on key areas of your catalog — e.g., creative, merchandise and offers — so you can get immediate reactions. Also, use the focus group as a way to discuss current and potential product lines that may be of interest to your buyers.
For example, have your moderator (the research director asking questions of focus group participants) probe into customers’ interest in possible new products while showing visual depictions of those items. Gather immediate reactions to new products and whether focus group participants would consider buying those items from you. A women’s apparel catalog that’s considering carrying a line of jewelry may ask for customer input regarding variety, styles, pricing and anticipated visual layouts. This is a great example of a business objective translated into a research objective.
In our work, merchants hire us to help them get feedback from their customers. In the catalog customer focus groups we organize, we sometimes ask shoppers to bring with them other catalogs they receive and buy from that are most similar to the catalog we’re investigating (i.e., our catalog client). By examining those competitive catalogs, we can discern much about customers’ purchase decision-making, including from where else they shop, what they buy and why — and it’s all based on real-world examples. This also provides our catalog clients with the strengths and weaknesses of their competing brands.
We then zero in on the catalog in question and ask focus group participants for their reactions. This gives us valuable feedback regarding the creative aspects of the direct mail pieces, and allows us to delve into whether or not the product benefits are clear and if getting the catalog motivates recipients to buy.
Each focus group is comprised of just one segment of participants at a time and lasts roughly two hours. A good research company will design and develop your focus group moderator’s guide and participant screener, as well as conduct the group activities for you.