Coming Into Focus

Tech, You Stupid Dick 4 Replies

Last night I got to sit in on my first focus group, 2-way mirror and all.

I went to an office somewhere downtown where I sat in a room with 5 other guys and talked about cleaning products. Guys plus cleaning products can only mean one thing: this was a research panel about cleaning gadgets. And gadgety they were.

It seems everyone is trying to re-invent the Swiffer, like so many have tried in the last couple years. This company was charged with trying to bring new design/product ideas to the table that would stimulate men to purchase cleaning supplies and we were the guinea pigs. I can safely say that out of the 30 or so product treatments we looked over, 3 only got me interested. The rest were variations on a Swiffer theme. Here’s a glimpse of the cleaning future: know that “UV lighting” plays big.

When I got there the first thing I noticed about the other panelists was that all except for one guy had dirty hair. Seriously greasy. One guy was well groomed but he was a bit run-on-the-mouth, negating his cleanliness and making him the know-it-all. One guy kept his sunglasses on until the woman running the show asked him if he had a medical condition. No, they’re just cool. Thanks Corey Hart! One average joe kind of guy (who I would match opinions on things most of the time) had such an angry grimace on the whole time looked like he wanted to murder us all just because. And finally there was Monseraat. Yes. That’s his name.

Monseraat wanted to talk in depth about how awful all the products were. While I gave my opinion honestly and said opinions that came from my consumerist heart, Monseraat just wanted to have his bitch on. I was convinced that he was a bit drunk because he could not follow the simple instructions the group leader was laying down. First, we were instructed to talk about the positives about the product, if any, to which Monseraat would ignore and start into a diatribe of how horrid this new thing was: “Why would I want to have different types of cleaning heads? Can’t I just pick up a sponge if I need a sponge?” Monseraat hated everything they threw at us because it didn’t have steam cleaning power. When one hand held steam cleaning prototype came across the table, he went apeshit with happiness, until I said: “I’m not too comfortable using an electrical, plug in device to clean a bathtub.” Then with daggers shooting from his eyes directed to me, he changed his product score one point lower. It was then I realized I could counter his opinions with logic and I went to town.

“Why would you use something that looks like an oven mitt to clean? It’s awful.”

“Well you use your whole hand, it gives you more coverage and more control over the size of your wipe. More area equals faster cleaning!”

Dirty daggers.

In the end Monseraat was a ball of confusion when it came to choose our top three favorite products at the end of the evening.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Would I want someone like Monseraat in the group? YES!

4 thoughts on “Coming Into Focus

  1. postbear

    i did these from time to time, and was much like monseraat at times. the last time i did one, it was to explore how much information people actually knew about over-the-counter medications. it was obviously heavily biased toward the results wanted by pharmaceutical companies, and i argued every single point they made. this wasn’t difficult, since they tried to get us to accept that swallowing a large bottle of aspirins wasn’t something to be overly concerned about, and that since nobody ever reads the information printed on inserts and boxes, it should just be simplified and the details made available online. the junior helper monkeys who actually interacted with us thought i was funny, but it was clear that the tallest behind the mirror were unimpressed.

  2. Jim Tait

    I’ve been to a few focus groups myself — they often have giveaways, and are sometimes quite well catered. Some even offer cold, hard cash for participating, so I’m all in favour of the things.

    Of course, there’s always the sobering experience of looking around the room and realizing that whatever set of criteria was used to select the members of the group is the same set of criteria that was used to include your own good self. So, if you ever wanted to see yourself as others see you, you just need to steal a glance at your partners-in-crime!

Comment Here!