Top 5 Reasons to Host a Kitchen Table Focus Group

Blindfolded Focus Group In Taste Test

Blindfolded focus group in mock kitchen taste testing meats at the Department of Agriculture Beltsville, Maryland, Maryland, 1935. From the New York Public Library. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Kitchen table focus groups are a cheap and easy way to get unbiased feedback on your brand, product or service.

Preparing some food or ordering some pizza and inviting 10 people over to give you their highly-valuable opinion, is not only an excuse to have a great time sharing conversation over a meal but also an opportunity to make new friends.

Ideally, you would invite 5 of your friends (or acquaintances) to dinner and ask each of them to invite someone you don’t know. The goal is to get five people you know (who will most likely gush and give you biased feedback) and five people who are complete strangers who will give you honest, unbiased feedback. You should invite 10 so that you may end up with 6 or 8.

It’s important that you leave your own ego at the door and make it clear to everyone that you are looking for ways to improve your product and your message – to make sure it can connect with your intended audience.

Here are five reasons you might host a kitchen table focus group:

  1. You have a new logo – This also works for taglines, slogans or brand messaging. You are looking to get feedback on whether people will know what you do simply by looking at your logo. You’re also looking for legibility from a distance, and readability if they only saw it for 3 seconds.
  2. You have rough mixes of your new album or single – This also works for photography, painting, clothing design, etc. You have difficulty describing what genre your music is to people who have never heard it. You need to be able to target and market it to a specific audience but you don’t know who that audience is. You need a group of people to say, “that reminds me of ____” or “that makes me feel like _____.”
  3. You have a new idea for a book or workshop – You’ve been inspired with an idea for a book that will fly off the shelves or a workshop that will sell out in minutes. Gather your group and begin by telling them the title and how much it costs. If that doesn’t draw them in, describe what they might learn or how they might be changed by your idea (what’s in it for them). Take lots of notes. Their questions are going to be very important as they are telling you what they want to learn about.
  4. You have an idea for a new business that seems early or unclear – You think you have identified a huge gap in the marketplace. It’s something nobody is doing and you’re pretty sure you can capitalize on it if you can get the right team in place and launch it soon. The reasons for a focus group at this early stage are pretty obvious. You want to be sure no one else (locally or globally) is solving for this perceived need and you want people to try to punch as many holes in the idea as they can.
  5. You want to launch (or redesign) your website – If it’s been three years and your website hasn’t changed, it’s time for a refresh. Ask your group to bring their laptops and make sure your wi-fi or hotspot connection can accommodate the heavy usage. Watch silently over their shoulders to see how they navigate the site (everyone does this differently). Have them raise their hands and ask questions when they get stuck or reach a dead end. Be as objective as possible even if you think something is common sense. There is no operating manual and not everyone uses the internet the same way. Take lots of notes, or better yet, set up a tripod and shoot video of the group so that you can engage with them.

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