Customer experience (CX) is front-and-center for brands in today’s market and for good reason. Improving the customer experience is key in increasing retention, satisfaction and sales. The perception a customer has on how a brand treats them is what drives loyalty. According to a 2017 Walker study, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience and by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Being customer-focused is not enough. Brands must be committed to the way their customers experience their brand.

With so many new and emerging options available to researchers, how do focus groups fit into the quest to improve the way customers experience brands?

We utilize focus groups to gain valuable insight into the heart and mind of the consumer, to capture their feelings about products, services and concepts along every stage of development. But where Don Draper and his Mad Men cohorts were limited in their testing methodologies, our current marketing research options are increasingly expansive. In this environment and with so many effective choices, how important are focus groups?

In a nutshell: very.

While today focus groups may exist as one of many tools in the toolbox (not so 25 years ago), they are still “the” qualitative method to understand not only what people are thinking but why. As more and more of the process of conducting research is shifted to tech-based solutions to answer the who, what, when, where and how of business questions, researchers will always be tasked with answering the “Why?” and “Now what?” Those are inherently human functions and should stay so.

And the best way to understand the “why” is through face-to-face interviews where consumers, users/non-users and target audiences become people. After all, it is people who are loyal to brands and buy their products and unless we consider the whole person and what makes them tick on a personal level, we may miss the mark.

Focus groups function as an essential tool for brands to understand how people experience their products (CX) and to invite discussion on what people think of them – what they would like to see, what can be improved, what is working, what is not (voice of the customer). Insights gathered through focus groups (and other methods) are especially helpful in creating benchmarks for setting up company voice of the customer programs to foster brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, ultimately impacting the bottom line.

Of course, there are many other excellent testing methods that are used hand-in-hand with focus group research, including both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Leveraging a combination of qual and quant tools produces a rich, multi-faceted and detailed understanding of your market and customers.


FPG owns and operates 20 research facility locations in key markets nationwide. We offer a comprehensive array of methods that ensure our clients’ success in the marketplace, from in-person research, online qual and quant research, to emerging tools including the Gauge mobile app, online product reviews and mobile video capture. Whether in-person or online, our goal is to provide our clients with trustworthy data and an excellent, people-powered research experience. After all, marketing research is all about people and the insights they bring to us through thoughtful dialogue.