Explaining the importance of customer data-driven decision-making is usually met with little backlash. Who doesn’t love “big data” and big numbers? But sometimes the most useful insight can materialize from “small data.”

Enter: focus groups. “Wait a second,” you may be thinking, “what can a small group of people sitting around a table tell me about my product or service that I don’t already know?!”

We hear that sort of thinking out in the field all the time. It’s easy to dismiss qualitative research in favor of the quantitative scope of a larger set of data. However, focus groups are often a valuable way for companies to uncover emerging themes and trends and provide directional feedback on their products and services.

Here are four great reasons why focus groups can add value to solving your customer marketing or sales dilemmas.

  1. Targeted Samples Deliver Targeted Results – Focus groups allow you to select targeted samples from the general population. Discussion groups have also been found to be most effective when respondents can identify with each other. For instance, suppose your product is performing poorly with college-educated married women ages 30-45 who live in large metropolitan areas. So you decide to do a focus group with college-educated married women ages 30-45 who live in large metropolitan areas. By targeting this demographic, you can bring this population segment together to discuss their likes and dislikes about your product in detail.
  1. Devil’s in the Details – A focus group generally covers more ground than a single open-ended question. Sure, ranking one’s level of satisfaction with your organization’s customer service on a scale of one to ten is useful. But, don’t you want to know why they gave it a five instead of a four or a six? Focus groups provide the space for these sorts of explanations and they avail participants the freedom to state their opinion and to provide detailed examples in a secure, comfortable space.
  1. New Insight from New Directions – Think of focus groups as in-depth conversations. Have you ever begun a conversation about one topic, only to have it transform into an entirely different conversation? This is an often occurrence in focus groups. That’s not to say that topics can shift rapidly. Rather, conversations are guided by relevant points that can gradually uncover new insights. For example, a respondent may offhandedly mention that he or she found another use for your product that isn’t advertised. In turn, another respondent may remark that she also found a different use and shifts the conversation into the territory of directional insight.
  1. Spotlight on Your “VIPS” – In addition to targeting segments by using focus groups, you can also target your “fans” i.e. people who use your product frequently and with gusto. Focus groups can act as a great platform for engaging your brand and your consumer base. It will allow your audience the opportunity to give honest feedback and a sense of “being heard.” Engaged consumers are more likely to become satisfied consumers.