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Build Your Strawman

Focus group market research is a good way to get prospective customer response and feedback. It would be typical to recruit 6-8 focus groups, each comprising 8 or 9 people. The people recruited would be drawn from your target market ‚ expected customers, people who influence them and non-customers.

Other people recruited would also include those with an ‚attitude, in the market you are targeting (for example, deeply distrustful of big organisations) and in the life stage (single, married, etc) and socio-economic (occupation, income, etc) class.

The Groups would be brought together for 45 minutes or so and are facilitated through an agenda that could cover four parts. The facilitators job is to move the group through the agenda and ensure all perspectives and views are explored and captured on audio-recorder. The four part agenda would cover:

  1. Introductions and warm up for the group
  2. Exploration of the groups experiences and knowledge of the general product category , that your product will compete in ( eg buying a house)
  3. Hypothesize what the ideal buying process, provider and product might be
  4. Reaction and response to your ‚straw-man‚ depiction of your product.

The idea of presenting your product as a straw-man to prospective customers in focus groups is to give the customer an opportunity to get involved in what they all see as an unfinished or work-in-progress product. Its not a done-deal for them and they will be motivated by the opportunity to input into the final product. The straw-man presentation form can be a prototype or sometimes better than this a storyboard which depicts the product graphically and how it might work for the customer, the benefits and the uses.

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