Thursday, December 25, 2008

Case study: A focus group goes bad

An MFI had implemented a poster and billboard ad campaign for their new loan product… without having done any market research in advance. After the signs and posters had been printed and distributed, a focus group was conducted to get their clients’ reactions to the campaign.

Groups of target clients were shown the ads and the focus group moderator began reading through the questions in his discussion guide. Things went off track very quickly, however, when the clients admitted that they couldn’t actually read the ads. Most of the borrowers were illiterate.

The moderator, who had also designed the ad campaign, became upset and began explaining to the clients what the ads meant (not what they said). The focus group participants were able to give him some feedback on the message, which didn’t address their key concerns about speed of delivery and loan size. The angered moderator argued with the clients, telling them that the ads weren’t “supposed to be” about the loan size.

Discussion questions:

1. When would have been a good time to hold the focus group?
2. What could the moderator have done differently?
3. What market intelligence was gained from the group?
4. Was this a successful ad campaign?

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