5 Steps to Hosting an Effective Focus Group

As new designers you hit the ground running with so many expectations and BIG dreams. How many of you know that a lot of your favorite designers today didn’t immediately get picked up by major stores? They had to go back and perfect their ideas before landing those successful opportunities. 

You want to know why a focus group is a great option. Because you want to go to the source, you want to talk directly to your main target shopper and get their feedback. There is nothing greater than building something that is truly USEFUL to your audience! 

When you go to build your collection, do you truly understand what your customer is asking from you? 

When you are developing new products, getting customer feedback is a great way to better your business.  

So, what can you do to prevent building a product or collection no one wants to purchase? Host a focus group! 

Invite some of your customers out to your studio for drinks, goodies and get feedback on your product or collection. This could be a fun meet and greet and a way to gather tips from your customer’s on ways to promote your brand and what they love or don’t love about the product. 

NEVER be scared of negative feedback from a focus group, that feedback should motivate you to create the perfect solution. 

Here I have provided 5 steps to hosting the most effective focus group. 

Start with research 

Conducting Market Research and understanding and knowing your target audience is really important. You want to have the right customer in the focus group. New designers tend to skip research when starting their business and find they really don’t know or understand who their target customer is and what they want. Make sure you are taking the proper steps to truly define your customer. 

Tip: Leave your friends out of your focus group, they will love it no matter what, step outside the box and reach out to people who has purchased from you outside of your circle, they will provide the real feedback you need. 

Listen to your customers and be open minded 

We are all sensitive about our work! But, when it comes to your focus group make sure you are keeping a positive, open mind and allow your customer’s to give you 100% feedback without restrictions. The purpose of the customer being there is to help you better your products, take it in and let it out later! 

Define key objectives-what are some MUST have takeaways from the session 

Before the focus group session sit down and decide with your team what are some takeaways that must be answered.  

Example: What are somethings regarding your brand, service and specific products that you would like to have a conclusion about when the session is over?  

Show off the brand and focus on direct feedback 

Be prepared to show off the product! If you are doing a focus group in your store, design studio, etc. make sure you bring samples for the focus group to see and visually get a feel of the product. Allow the group to give you direct feedback. 

Ask the important questions 

When it comes to your brand ask the real-life situation questions. 

Example: If you are a fashion brand; ask where they would wear the designs? What have they purchased from you?  Why and where did they wear it to? Ask about the brand experience they received from your store or e-commerce website, was it fun, laid back, exclusive, what emotions did it evoke, did the answers align with the type of brand experience you were looking to provide for your customers. Ask about the fit, the style or the ease of styling the product. 

I truly believe that creating a focus group is not one-size fits all. I also truly believe you must not be scared to talk to your customers. The industry is changing, the needs of the consumer is a blank space right now as designers are all trying to figure out how to provide them with what they need and want & how to give to them in real time. This is an interesting time for fashion and also a great time to get to talking to customers. Digital platforms has allowed us to put a direct face to our brand and our customers, use this time to build a relationship and get the conversation going. 

Questions: 

1.      Do you talk to your customers? 

2.      What feedback has been the most beneficial for your brand