Getting Through to Jaded Consumers

by Barbara Milgram | Posted in Focus Groups |




UntitledIn marketing, we frequently talk about jaded consumers:  How to breach the fortresses they build against anything that smells like marketing.

My market research focus groups are stocked with jaded consumers.  There’s the tired guy who just got off work who’s thinking about his dog, or maybe even his date that starts in an hour.  Someone else is wondering whether a hundred bucks is really a good reason to be stuck in a room full of strangers talking about something he doesn’t care about.  Inevitably, there’s the single mom wondering how her kids are doing.  Maybe there’s the lady who didn’t get much sleep the night before and can’t concentrate on much of anything.

I have a roomful these people and we need to spend about two hours together, coming up with insights to help solve my client’s problem.  My challenge as a moderator is to get my client what they need, I have to shift the energy of the room from uninvolved and cynical to lively and engaged.  I’ve only got five minutes to accomplish this, If I don’t do this well, the jaded, cynical consumers will never be forthcoming about a topic they honestly don’t care much about, such as menu board navigation..

So when each focus group starts, I might pull out my psychology training, my projective toys, my interpersonal skills or my snacks, all to encourage people to want to talk to me.  I read body language, and forge relationships—a topic that deserves its own blog.  I can’t just start asking, “Which is a better direction, the horizontal or vertical”?  Before we tackle the specifics, I often need to change the energy.  My client hires me to get the key to the fortress.

So I engage, connect, respond and subconsciously pull until…shift. The guy leaning back in his chair like a victim of “g-force” leans forward.  Someone cracks a joke. There’s a collective spark as the group connects with the objective.  Suddenly, you’re in a room full of team members, engaged in a project.  Now it gets fun and the learning begins.


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