Focus Groups: The Hidden Element Of A Successful Product Launch


By Ryan Velez

Inventors and other creatives are a model to the business world with their passion and expertise. However, this comes at a price. How many creatives do you know that fall in love with their work so much that they can be blind to potential issues? This is where focus groups come into play, and Black Enterprise explains how to get the most from them.

Any invention is a huge investment of money and time, but it can be easy to get tunnel blind. Here’s one story that Black Enterprise shares:

“A few years back, an inventor hired me to provide marketing support for her manufactured product that she had dumped her entire 401(k) into (roughly $700,000), none of which went toward focus groups or consumer product testing. Her invention, which was actually a really great cooking utensil, began to fail in the homes of some consumers.

She found herself sending replacements and providing refunds to disgruntled customers, which became a burdensome expense. To top it off, she had emptied all of her coffers on research, development, and production. That left her with a super-slim budget for marketing, a decision that ultimately became a death sentence for her product.”

“I was able to provide some marketing support to this inventor, but she was haunted by her product failures and had thousands of units of a product that she was no longer confident to sell. She ended up taking a major financial loss and went back into research and development to work out the kinks.”

How could a focus group have helped here? A formal definition for a focus group is a “demographically diverse group of people assembled to participate in a guided discussion about a particular product before it is launched, or to provide ongoing feedback on a political campaign, television series, etc.” Their purpose is to find out if your target audience understands your product and would be interested in buying it. By using a controlled environment, you can make note of all reactions, positive and negative.

However, even the deepest insight won’t amount to much if you’re not willing to put your ego aside and actually implement the feedback. Sometimes, it’s a matter of not having a brand that properly reaches the people most likely to buy your product. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of a product that’s not very good or needs more refinement. By using a focus group and adjusting as needed, you can save a lot of money handling things now rather than later.