The traditional focus group does not help gather immediate understandings of the customer/consumer’s brand behavior with products or services. I designed the experiential focus group (EFG) to collect in-the-moment observations, obtain feedback on products or prototypes, and identify gaps in the product design and brand communication. EFG is a qualitative method. I designed and conducted EFGs for enterprise, consumer brands, and non-profits. Participants are selected based on demographic requirements. The approach to collecting knowledge from the EFG is in three phases. The phases measure the change in attitude and behavior during the EFG activities, at the exit, and follow-up.
- It begins with the facilitation and planned experiments; during this time, photos and videos capture participation.
- After the EFG activities, the participants take an exit survey.
- A follow-up survey is given a week after participants use the product(s) or service(s) in their environment.
Participants are required to take part in all the EFG exercises. The design of the EFG plan through the analysis and presentation is two and half weeks. The knowledge from the EFG is timely, fresh, and validated so that the business can take advantage of the findings, launch, course correct, or reshape the product or brand.
A consumer product manufacturer needed answers on a product they were launching. The process I designed involved the company taking a collaborative approach to research planning. Consumer product manufacturer enjoyed and found value in the research approach asked for eight more EFGs. Their most intriguing product we put through the EFG is the s-biner. Who would have thought consumers loved s-biners so much! But not all consumers are in the s-biner know. The unknowing consumer provided fruitful insights and recommendations.
Eleven consumers were identified to participate, provide their observations about s-biners in the 90-minute session. During which:
- Insights collected from the participants about their experiences and perceptions.
- Observations recorded about pain points and experiences.
- They revealed where the s-biners fit into their lives.
Participants emerged in playing with a dozen s-biners for 30 minutes. We photographed and took videos of their experiments. After 30 minutes participants discussed their experiences. Upon their initial introduction of the s-biner, the participants were uncertain. Their uncertainty changed by the end of the session; participants were thoughtful about s-biners.
At the exit survey, 81% of the participants rated their experiences as satisfying, and 45.5% would buy an s-biner. A week after using the s-biners, they reported new places in their lives that the s-biner is needed. They disclosed their reasons for buying and not buying s-biners. The outcomes of which produced identification of new uses, favorite features and functionality, perception of value, and retailers that should sell the s-biners.
We learned the longer they played with s-biners, the more ideas came to mind on what to use the s-biners for, but, when a consumer is in a “shopper mode,” they don’t have time to figure out creative uses. We used the findings to ideate about changing the packaging, messaging, and content. We came up with several ideas to improve brand communication about s-biners and demonstrate the value that s-biners add to their lives.