Focus Groups

by Chikashi

Steve Jobs once said: “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  

I wrote about Polonius’s Paradox recently, but I did not mention my distrust of focus groups.  I do not see any value of focus groups, especially for products intended for discretionary purchase.  The best that they can do is to tell you something that you already know.  The worst is to get you dashing off in the wrong direction, thinking that it was a validated direction.

The fundamental question about the use of focus groups is:  why would you base your strategic decision on a group of strangers happy to waste a few hours trying to demonstrate how clever / informed / stylish they are in exchange for $100 and some overcooked pasta salad, soggy sandwiches and repulsive coffee?