Rivers of ink have flown in countless books and newspaper articles about this subject. So it should be clear for everyone by now that focus groups suck when it comes to rating an ad. And yet they’re still used. And yet there’s still some people who just don’t get it. It’s only right that I step in now and make a list of 5 reasons why focus groups are the worst advisor when it comes to choosing an ad for your campaign.

* Focus groups are not relevant, statistically speaking. The sample isn’t representative. Remember, you want to speak to millions of people. Are you sure the opinions of 20 people in a room are truly representative for all those millions?

Here's the link to the rest of the post: http://eugens.wordpress.com/2007/03/02/5-reasons-why-focus-groups-suck...

I'm interested to hear your stories on the subject, either here or on my blog.

Focus groups are good for

Focus groups are good for insight before the creative has been started. It is useless and even damaging to test ready creative.


Totally agree with you,

Totally agree with you, Ivan. And 80% of the testing I get involved in occurs after the concept. I sometimes beg for groups beforehand, but there's never enough time. Very frustrating.


I've decided I am not afraid of intimacy.


yep, focus groups are great

yep, focus groups are great for insight, NEVER for concept testing. And I must say that the ideal would be them not knowing they're monitored. But most clients use focus groups because they're cowards, they want to have something to throw the blame to if it doesn't work. Good clients are those that take risks - and those are so few...


So true, Eugens. Funny thing

So true, Eugens. Funny thing is the clients who say things like "I'll know a big idea when I see one" usually don't.

It was nice, what this scientist guy mumbled once upon a time: Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Creativity begins where research ends - so yes, it's better to have the groupie sessions before creatives get down to business.

Having said that, the stuff that a certain Mr Claude Hopkins used to say about measuring response to ads (in those times, through coupons) and now through clicks and heatmaps is something I dig. But then, that's a larger discussion than focus groups. Kindly pardon my digression.

farrukh naeem
copywriter, journalist, advertising blogger