SPR Adds Focus Groups To List of Polling Services

Posted on June 30, 2008. Filed under: The SPR Team, Uncategorized |

Susquehanna Polling and Research has entered into a strategic partnership with the Bartlett Group of Susquehanna Township to offer focus groups, which will provide a new level of service to clients of both firms.

Focus groups are used to provide qualitative data about the attitudes, perceptions, and opinions of participants regarding the topic of discussion or the product or advertising slogan being proposed. Focus groups are not intended to reach a consensus, to arrive at a plan, or to make decisions about what course of action to take but they factor into eventual decisions about advertising, product development or taking a course of action, including in a political campaign.

 “We partnered with the Bartlett Group because it was a good fit for many of our clients who not only need polling information but also want to test the results of that polling information with a focus group so they can make better decisions for their customers and clientele,” said Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling and Research.

Because of politics and cable news programs, many people know the term “focus group” but maybe they don’t fully understand what it involves.  According to Tammie Campanaro, project manager for the Bartlett Group, a focus group is a qualitative form of marketing research. It is made up of a relatively small, homogeneous, and informal group of individuals who are assembled to discuss a specific topic led by a trained moderator. She explained that most focus groups consist of six to 12 people who are selected to participate based on specific characteristics such as age, gender, occupation, interests and education. Focus groups are seen as an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products, current products or services, competitors, and advertising.

For new products in particular, focus groups allow companies wishing to develop, package, name, or test market a new product, to discuss, view, and/or test the new product before it is made available to the public, Campanaro said. This can provide invaluable information about the potential market acceptance of the product, she explained.

In traditional focus groups, a screened (qualified) group of respondents gathers in the same room. They are screened to ensure that they are part of the relevant target market and that the group is a representative subgroup of this market segment. The session usually lasts from one to two hours.

The moderator guides the group through a discussion that probes attitudes about a client’s proposed products or services. The discussion is loosely structured, and the moderator encourages the free flow of ideas. The moderator is typically given a list of objectives or an anticipated outline. He/she will generally have only a few specific questions prepared prior to the focus group. These questions are designed to spark an open-ended discussion.

Through a one-way mirror or a closed circuit television system, client representatives get to observe the discussion first-hand in a stadium-seating arrangement at the Bartlett Group facilities at 3690 Vartan Way in Susquehanna Township outside Harrisburg.

With the one-way mirror, participants cannot see out, but the researchers and their clients can see in. Usually, a video camera records the meeting so that it can be seen by others who were not able to travel to the site and so the focus group findings can later be discussed by the client with his top marketing and advertising people. Transcripts can also be created from the video tape.

Plus, the video allows researchers to examine for more than the spoken words. Focus group experts try to interpret facial expressions, body language, and group dynamics, among other things. Moderators may use straight questioning or various projective techniques, including fixed or free association, story-telling and role-playing. Focus groups are often used to garner reaction to specific stimuli such as concepts, prototypes and advertising. The Bartlett Group was founded in 1986 and it provides services for all aspects of focus groups. Its clients include Members First Federal Credit Union, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Capital Blue Cross, Geisinger Health Systems, Wegman’s supermarkets, Stauffers of Kissel Hill nurseries and Giant Foods supermarkets.

 

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