Qualitative Research Part 3? Can I make focus groups creative?

market research qualitative research focus group marketing research buying research focus groups 10 an introduction to focus groups creative focus groups focus groups get creative ideation creative thinking creative thinking for corporates

We’re asked this a lot and there’s a massive difference between truly creative ideation with consumers or customers and post-its in focus groups. So let’s understand the difference.

In focus groups you might get ‘creative’ to understand a brand in more detail, you might make a collage, do personifications exercises but most people need help to be creative and creativity needs to be channelled. So how do you do it, well there’s quite a high bar to do it properly, you need to train people in creativity, how do you do that?

It’s a two stage-process:

  • Session 1- Train people in techniques and apply them to people’s personal challenges which don’t need to be voiced.
  • Session 2 – Train them in ideation and as an option
  • Session 3 – Invite them into an incubator

So what’s the first phase, in overview? Well there are at least 250 exercises which we’ve learned and work for people to encourage their creativity. These exercises are classified into different types, we’ll look at that another time, fundamentally there are exercises for creative thinking in the box and creative thinking out of the box.  Here are a few of the basic ones but you’ve got to define a creative problem, so here’s’ one: “How can we make brandy trendy?”

So here are some basic techniques:

  • Imagine a company, not a brandy company, took over what would they do?
  • Imagine another country (not France) took over the marketing of brandy, what would they do?
  • Imagine different professions took over the marketing of brandy, what would they do?

Now the key thing is this, you can’t just launch into it. You need to get people ‘in-state’, you need to get people to imagine what it’s like working for the company, for example, what’s the culture of their Xmas party and write down how they imagine it, only then will they be ready. It’s the same for the country exercises – get them to imagine living there and so on.

The other key discipline is to write everything down on post-its, even stray thoughts which don’t seem like they are going anywhere, having a ‘group scribe’ makes it harder to move thoughts around and cluster them. So here are some great books which have lots of creative exercises in, these are the ones I personally rate. If you want some ‘quick hacks’ then e-mail me on jake@jakepearce.com

Cracking Creativity, Michalko https://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Creativity-Secrets-Creative-Genius-ebook/dp/B004S3H1LQ/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1513710071&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=creative+thinking+techniques+Michalko

Tinker Toys, Michalko https://www.amazon.com/Thinkertoys-Creative-Thinking-Techniques-Michael-Michalko-ebook/dp/B004CFAWU2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513710039&sr=1-1&keywords=creative+thinking+techniques

 De Bono, How to have creative exercises https://www.amazon.com/How-Have-Creative-Ideas-exercises-ebook/dp/B0080K3LR6/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513709981&sr=1-2&keywords=creative+thinking+techniques+%2B+de+bono

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Jake Pearce

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"Different to get better results". Jake is obsessed with marketing ROI. He helps companies amplify word of mouth to get business more easily. He uses Meanomathics to boost Comms cut through 10-30%. He uses co-creation to future proof innovation - he turned around a drinks category providing 15% growth using professional co-creation. And he helps top CEO and celebrities with their personal branding and brand purpose, which links back to Word of Mouth marketing. 

Worked with Vodafone,Kellogg'sMcDonalds,ANZ,McDonalds,Suntory,Danone,HSBC,Barclays,BAT,Meat Brands,Saatchi&Saatchi,Draft FCB,Fairbrother Industries, Les Mills, Holmes Place, Grey and a host of digital start-ups.

Jake Pearce is a specialist in brand planning, development & innovation. Jake is currently working on a Word of Mouth Marketing start-up, a personal branding start-up and new delivery systems for wellness products. 

www.jakepearce.com - for brand development and innovation

www.womtwo.com - for word of mouth marketing expertise


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