Big Businesses: Facebook Apps over Focus Groups
The way business is continuing the evolve, the practice of the past are becoming archaic at a quickening pace. Watching Mad Men is like reading a history book. Most of what you see just doesn't make sense. One example of this is focus groups. In the past, companies would bring in rooms of people, and get their responses to products. Now days, they rely on social media and apps.
The New York Times published an illuminating feature earlier this week, revealing how big consumer goods businesses are relying increasingly on social media in place of traditional focus group research. One of the companies profiled is snack producer Frito-Lay, which uses a Facebook app called "Lay's Do Us a Flavor" to harvest swathes of raw data on flavor preference — while opinions are still being taken in the US, a similar technique has already been used in Thailand to trial and introduce a spicy crab flavor chip. But using social media for this sort of research also has its downsides. Facebook apps provide vast amounts of data much more quickly and cheaply than focus groups, but they also tend to skew results towards younger customers — a problem for companies such as Wal-Mart, which rely on the cash-heavy pockets of middle-aged consumers. Head over to The New York Times to find out what other techniques brands are using to keep up with customer tastes across the age spectrum.