Friday, August 19

Market research and cake

What an interesting evening. And I must say a huge thank you to my parents for their constant support. I casually mentioned that we could do with doing a focus group of some sort to gauge people's reactions to our products and next thing Mum has rung round her friends and organised just such an evening for us - how supportive is that? Slightly nervous as one of the couples had known me since I was 10 and didn't want them to think us unprofessional - but they were all so helpful.

Top tips for anyone else doing this:
1. cake always helps!
2. we gave everyone a thank you gift for giving up their time which was well received
3. be clear about what you want to get - we took ages to plan the questions and so glad we did
4. be prepared for some to have nooo idea what you're trying to do and be polite!
5. read up on a bit on how to manage focus groups
6. don't have more than 8 people as the discussion get too hard to manage otherwise
7. have a strategy in mind for those that talk lots and those that don't talk at all!
8. don't be shy about bringing the discussion back where you want it - this is your chance to find out what your customers think not what they had for tea!
9. plan the order of questions or sections, we deliberately asked the same question in different ways at the start and end to check pricing bands

What we did:
We showed people pictures from our website and just asked them for their opinion of the photography, the piece and how they felt they would use it or who they would buy it for. Any more questions and we would have overloaded the discussion so less is definitely more when it comes to asking people to write things down. We then asked them what they thought our logo was - most said Hippo and luckily most said it looked a happy hippo which was good to know. One lady there knew I was little hippo and started giggling as soon as she saw it and had to say stop it, you have inside information! The other amusement came from one person being a teacher who had worked with the (now infamous) geography teacher who told us to stop giggling all those years ago when the nickname came about - think she's already called him to say 'do you know what you created?'

What was really evident was that people love colours - was pleasantly surprised at which pieces were best received and kept being asked if we could do things in brighter colours. So, we have some tweaking to do on wording and a few photos but it was really useful and I would urge anyone else starting out to do the same. We're planning another one soon with a different age group to see if the comments are similar or different - and yes, cake will be provided (but can't make coffee cake like my Mum, best give her a call now!)

All that said, the evening was good fun and people want you to succeed. Comments or criticisms were only raised so that we could make things better - don't feel bad about what could be considered negative comments. We're always told to listen and respond to customer comments but chances are if you're selling online you don't often get the opportunity to take feedback off someone that hasn't bought from you so trap them with cake and get their opinions - you may be surprised what you learn! Angie xx