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Will we hit our sales numbers if we roll out this new product? How do our customers feel about our new logo prototypes? Why do our non-customers choose our competitor over us? Which changes in internal policy would truly enhance job satisfaction and employee retention? Why are year-after-year unit sales down at this location?

What are Focus Groups and Guest Intercepts? How can they help my business?

Focus Groups and Guest Intercepts both involve capturing qualitative data in-person in a controlled environment.

Specifically, focus groups are a form of qualitative measurement in which a specific group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea or packaging. The questions are asked in an interactive group setting wherein participants are free to talk with other group members. They are conducted at a pre-arranged time and place with an invited list of participants. They can be observed in person or through a two-way mirror by the client. Audio, video and/or written transcripts may be made of the sessions for further study.

Focus groups are a great tool for capturing a representative sample of customers, clients, employees, the general public or any other grouping in order to take qualitative measurement as an indication of how the larger group from which the subset is drawn may react to the measured variables. This data is immensely valuable in gaining insights into prospective company initiatives before large expenditures to implement the measured programs begin, allowing the company to make adjustments to optimize the program before full launch and avoid costly whole-scale changes after the fact. Measurement also allows the moderator to delve deeper into issues significant to the participants at the time of measurement, giving the company immediate detailed data on the items and variables most important to the targeted sample of participants.

Measuring impressions through these groups is an excellent way to gauge the strength of market acceptance for a new company product, service, policy or logo by current or targeted consumers; the likely reaction of employees to changes in benefits, possible work place enhancements or platforms for improving employee retention; or the competitive strengths and weaknesses perceived by the customer of a brick-and-mortar or Internet-based business and its competitors. There are literally thousands of potential applications for this strong measurement tool, and the powerful data it generates.

Guest or Customer Intercepts also provide a form of immediate feedback, but are less controlled and more randomized than focus groups. In a group intercept, customers are gently approached as they are leaving a commercial establishment and surveyed via a brief questionnaire on the spot. Polling opinions and collecting feedback from customers right as they exit the client location provides an opportunity to measure qualitative data at the freshest points in the minds of the respondent consumer.They generate great data from people who have just experienced the client’s business facilities and employees, and can be extremely helpful in measuring both qualitative impressions and quantitative data regarding their immediate recent interaction.

How do customers feel about the quality, prices and selection of merchandise, or the level of customer service? How about the new decor of the store, or some store layout changes being considered? What other items would customers like to see available for purchase? What would cause them to recommend this location or to return more often? How do they feel about the brand and as to whether this particular location lives up to the expectations of the brand by the customer? Guest intercepts can provide all those data points and many more.

In either case, the unique strength of focus groups and guest intercepts is that they provide human to human contact, wherein data is collected in a fresh and flexible manner, in order to capture the greatest amounts of the most relevant issues important to the client!

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