Life After the Focus Group


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While some people say the focus group is dead, others say it will never entirely disappear. Their opinions hinge on what position they hold in the market research process and what objective the research is trying to meet (turn to page 32).
Six years ago, Tom “TJ” Scott, director of new practices and corporate analytics/commercial insights at AstraZeneca, was working on a brand team, and at that time he regularly used focus groups for early-stage market research.
“Clearly, there are reasons to have an in-person focus group when evaluating creative pieces, working through what’s the right color, or determining how the message comes across to the customer,” Mr. Scott says.
When he moved into the innovative new practices group, the objective for market research also was changing.
“We began looking at broader concepts, getting reactions from doctors and trying to avoid peer bias that occurs when sitting next to someone in the same room,” Mr. Scott says. “So, for me, the in-person focus group is antiquated.”
Mr. Scott’s group has been successfully using WebEx conferencing to conduct online focus groups for the past four years.
“In-person focus groups still definitely work for the very early stages of development, when we want to see a face and use facial reactions as a cue to probe more, but unless…

Sound Bites From The Field

Experts on this Topic
Matthew Carpenter. Executive Director, Customer and Competitor Insights, Wyeth, Collegeville, Pa.; Wyeth is a research-driven pharmaceutical and healthcare products company. For more information, visit
Roger Green. Chairman, CEO, and President, Roger Green and Associates, New Hope, Pa.; Roger Green and Associates is a provider of healthcare insights and research. For more information, visit
Debra Kossman, Ph.D. Senior VP, National Analysts Worldwide, Philadelphia; National Analysts Worldwide is a market research and consulting firm that works in a range of industry sectors, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, IT, financial services, and consumer goods. For more information, visit
Wes Michael. Executive VP, Research Excellence, TNS Healthcare, New York; TNS Healthcare provides globally consistent solutions and custom advisory services to support product introductions; brand, treatment, and sales-performance optimization; and professional and DTC promotional tracking. For more information, visit tnsglobal/
Tom “TJ” Scott. Director of New Practices and Corporate Analytic, Commercial Insights, AstraZeneca, Wilmington, Del.; AstraZeneca is an international healthcare business engaged in research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and as a supplier of healthcare services. For more information, visit
S. Kent Stephan. CEO, Princeton Brand Econometrics, Princeton, N.J.; Princeton Brand Econometrics is a marketing engineering consultancy. For more information, visit
John Tapper, Ph.D. CEO, Ziment, New York; Ziment is a strategic primary marketing research and consulting company. For more information, visit