(I have hundreds of these!)
Two Markets, Two Observer Teams
It is always a bit dicey when you are doing focus groups for a client and his/her advertising agency: they often have arguing agendas, even if they won’t admit it! It’s even dicier when one client/agency team goes to one market, and another client/
agency team goes to the second market. That makes the moderator the only common element across both markets. It is likely that the two client/agency teams are going to think they saw something different, they’ll either argue with the other team, and both will argue that the Moderator “missed it.” Makes for a messy conclusion, and somebody always ends up unhappy, the Moderator for sure. Lesson Learned: Make sure someone behind-the-mirror person goes to all of the groups – best if that’s a client, not an agency person – but sometimes you can’t be picky.
Loaded for Bear
We were exploring the decision process for choosing a health care insurer among sole practitioners – that in itself can be a challenge, sort of like asking people about overdraft protection fees at their bank. And as I always do, I mingled with the respondents in the waiting area, scoping out potential troublesome respondents. One really, really stood out: she had a stack of file folders and legal sheets seriously a foot tall. I recommended to the client that we exclude her from the group, but the client wanted her to be included. We did. What a mess. She would get loud and angry, then she’d calm down and be cooperative, then she’d rear up again. It was destroying the group, to be honest. Finally, the client himself came into the room and escorted her to an adjoining room for a private interview. We could hear the “conversation” for the next half hour. She did indeed destroy the group: Lesson Learned: pay attention to excluding respondents who may be troublesome before they get into the focus group room.