‘Doing a group’ is doing me in

I am writing in response to Iain Murray’s column “Focusing on the tissues of the day” (MW May 27).

I agree with his sentiments but, for once, I don’t think he goes far enough.

I spend at least a few nights each month listening to the opinions of focus group respondents, but I also consider it part of my job to try to convert people away from “doing groups”.

It’s not that I want to turn away the opportunity to listen to a group of people talk in depth about the perils of accidentally picking up the wrong brand in the supermarket or the inexplicable appearance of blue belly button fluff.

But more that it is now trendy to be seen “doing groups” and there are a number of topics which are less than suitable. In the case of individuals who push parsnips up their noses, perhaps a “depth” (executive interview) would be more suitable (after all would you want to discuss this desire in front of seven people who you have never met before, even if they do have a similar habit?).

Iain is right to point out the weakness of the focus group but I have to admit – if only to keep my job – that groups do have their place.

But let’s try and keep them in their place and use more suitable tools where appropriate.

Otherwise we risk the cry of “let’s do a group” taking over from “let’s do lunch” – heaven forbid.

Dr Tamsin Addison

FFwd Precision Marketing


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