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Covid 19

By now everyone has had their say on the impact of Covid 19 on business. From a market research point of view it seems likely that it will be some time before people are happy to attend in person focus groups.

Zoom based groups seem to be working for some people but are a poor substitute for the real thing. As a moderator you get the full attention of group participants when you are all in the same room. You only have to look at what has happened in TV interviews with high end professionals to see that people can be easily distracted when they’re on screen at home.

My hope is that we will get back together in the not too distant future. Until then the closest we might get to the dynamic of a traditional focus group will be one to one in person interviews in a socially distanced environment.

A Simple Tale

There is a story told about a small food company who wanted to get their product into a major supermarket group. All of the consumer research had said that people loved the product and would pay a premium price for it.

But the business owner kept getting knocked back by the supermarket buyer. Never heard of it she said and I doubt anyone else has either. Come back when you have built awareness.

Things were getting tight cashwise for the food entrepreneur who tossed and turned at night trying to figure out what to do.

Then a smart team member came up with a bright idea. They found out that the supermarket buyer drove the same route to work and back each day. She listened to the same radio shows on the way to work and back in the car. She got her news from the same social media sites every day.

So the agency bought outdoor sites along the buyer’s route to and from work. They bought ads in the specific radio shows the buyer listened to and bought into relevant social media content.

As the campaign reached its peak and before the cash ran out the entrepreneur went back the buyer to make a do or die pitch.

This time the buyer said yes and congratulated the food entrepreneur on a highly visible and engaging ad campaign. The product flew off the shelves and the entrepreneur lived happily ever after, or at least until the next crisis came along.

Moral of the story? We all live in a small bubble of repeated behaviours. We create our own village despite considering ourselves adventurous and cosmopolitan. If you want to win someone over you have to understand them and go to where they are.


It sounds simple and it is simple. But lots of brands miss it

Still Waters Run Deep

There is an entertainment element to focus groups particularly when they are held in a viewing facility.

We want to provide interesting, dynamic groups that generate “meaningful insights” that send both clients and researcher home happy.

Sometimes recruitment briefs specify that focus groups should contain “no wallflowers” or words to that effect.

X factor, Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity, Instagram and Twitter all favour a loud, extrovert approach to life.

But elements of celebrity and social media values are creeping into a process that should be confident enough to include the multitude of personality types that go to make the world an interesting place.


As has been shown time and time again, this apparent confidence and conviction can mask ignorance and insecurity.

We should make room for quiet, thoughtful people in our research.

A few easily learned moderating techniques can encourage a quiet participant to engage with the process and offer insight.

“Empty vessels make most noise” and “still waters run deep” are two phrases we should bear in mind when putting together a recruitment brief.

According to the Huffington Post well known introverts include J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein.

What do you think?

Think. Act. Feel.

I saw a guy wearing a baseball cap the other day. It said “Think Positive.”

I wondered if he meant the message as a reminder to himself every time he picks it up.

Or maybe because it’s facing out when he wears it he’s advising other people to think positive.

Think positive is a useful reminder when we’re inclined to dwell on the negative side of any situation.

Sometimes things are not as bad as they seem.

But sometimes they are.

Thinking positive is fine unless it means you do nothing about a bad situation.

“I’ll win the lottery” is positive thinking but it won’t make bad things go away.

Sometimes it’s better to think negative if that’s what it takes you jolt you into doing something.

“This is a bad situation and I need to do something about it.”

So the thinking is negative but the action will be positive.

It’s the think, act, feel, triangle. When you act positive things get resolved. Then you feel better.

Then your thoughts become positive.

So my baseball cap will say Act Positive because that’s how things get fixed.

Appropriate Attire

In an interview with the Irish Times, management columnist Lucy Kellaway told of her experience when speaking at a banking event in Singapore. She began her address wearing jeans and Birkenstock shoes.


The theme of the conference was authenticity and she wanted to demonstrate that the authentic her was not appropriate when addressing a conference of bankers.


During the course of her address she changed into a Diane Von Furstenberg dress which she considered more appropriate to the occasion.


Closer to home people like Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary and Mick Wallace TD have challenged the authentic versus appropriate debate.


“Appropriate” is a relative term and one that evolves with time and convention.


A survey of office workers in the USA revealed that about a third would prefer to work in a company that has a business casual dress code while just under a half of senior managers said that dressing too casually was the most common dress code violation in their company.

To break a dress code dramatically you either have to own the company, be absolutely brilliant, or just not give a damn. The rest of us conform.


Talk to Us

If you need the kind of consumer insight that drives successful brand and advertising development call Colm Carey on 087-2573346 /01-2881884 or click here to get in touch so that we can find out what you need and how we can go about meeting your objectives. Our combination of enthusiasm, experience and competitive costing will make sure you get the understanding you need from the research process.