Advantage of Reviews Analysis over Focus Groups
Companies that invest in insights see growth, so for most brands, it’s not a question of should we fund research, but where should we put our resources. No matter what type of market research you do, you’ll find that certain methods offer more disadvantages or advantages. Ultimately, this depends upon your brand’s unique business challenge and the objective you’re trying to accomplish with specific research. For certain questions – a reaction to a marketing campaign or a new concept, for example – using a focus group might be the better option, so consumers can build on each other’s ideas. However, whether you have brand, consumer or landscape questions, there are many occasions where a reviews analysis will be the better option at unlocking rich insights.
A brand may seek to uncover why their sales have started to decline or they may be eager to understand reaction to a new initiative’s launch. For questions such as these, and other brand insights, a reviews analysis has advantages over focus groups. For one, focus groups have limited data/insights as focus groups are essentially forms of qualitative insights. Qualitative insights have their place, but for an analysis to provide rich insight it’s helpful to have qualitative insights backed up by quantitative data. Because focus groups rely on individual responses, the insights are limited. If one member of your five-person focus group doesn’t like a certain aspect of a product, it may be interesting, but hundreds of consumers commenting negatively about an aspect will give you much truer insight into why sales have started to decline. Additionally, in reviews, the unsolicited verbatim comments offered provide richness to complement that quantitative data.
Your brand may miss important strengths and opportunities due to not asking the right questions. Many of the insights gleaned from a focus group are reliant upon the questions asked. If a brand has a very narrow concern or a question before launch (i.e. do you like this flavor or what color would you prefer?) perhaps this is okay. Casting a wider net, however, will give brands deeper insights, allowing them to see a more holistic view and understand the whole picture. To understand the performance of a new launch with a reviews analysis, pulling the reviews allows for a holistic view – not only can you see consumers reacting in real time, but it also allows for an understanding of what consumers felt before the initiative launch – allowing for deep insights.
Understanding the needs of your consumers is important to grow any business. A brand may be trying to uncover Unmet Needs or Jobs to be Done. Both are instances where a focus group will have a disadvantage when compared to using consumer reviews to unlock insights. Often in focus groups, it can be challenging to get an honest answer from participants. Particularly for sensitive topics, participants may feel as if they can’t voice their opinion freely due to embarrassment or because they feel pressure to respond with a socially acceptable answer, with participants altering their responses in an effort to curry favor with the moderator.
Another advantage reviews analyses have over more traditional focus groups is that reviews are left by users of the brand. There is little worry that the responses are provided simply for money or clout. In focus groups, moderator bias can also come into play, whether intentional or not, with moderators leading the participants into reaching specific conclusions or assumptions.
Because reviews are typically anonymous, much of this concern from consumers is eliminated. Consumers feel free to leave more honest feedback, which allows brands to understand compensatory behaviors and/or what consumers are missing from their current products.
There are times when understanding the landscape as a whole, looking for White Space Opportunities or assessing your brand’s value perception compared to the category is important. In these instances, there are advantages to a reviews analysis over focus groups.
Focus groups use more resources than a reviews analysis. By their nature, focus groups are high touch and high cost, and that cost increases as you add in more data points (respondents). With a reviews analysis, this concern is mitigated due to the robust, rich data set that already exists on a wide range of sites. Sometimes a reviews analysis can use hundreds of thousands of reviews – pulling in feedback on not only the total of your brand – but also your competitors, allowing for a 360 understanding of the category.
Because reviews analysis use unprompted and unbiased, rich and ready-made data sets, they offer a wide range of advantages over focus groups. They also tend to allow for more holistic insights, while utilizing less resources, so brands can focus on implementing the insights and recommendations into action right away – all to untap growth potential!