Idea Generation

Differences Between Idea Generation & Focus Group Discussions

There are some who argue that idea generation among consumers is a frustrating task.  After all, who knows a particular product category more than the manufacturer, its advertising agency, and other groups committed to the survival of the product (and the product line)?  And it doesn’t help that facilitators of all kinds are guilty of asking consumers to be experts where they are not and to assume greater role playing in marketing decisions than is justified.  Asking consumers to step outside of their worlds – to pretend to be someone (something) else – may seem foolhardy.

Consumer ideation, however, can be a useful approach, particularly when it is constructed with two key ingredients: 1) people who are product-involved; and 2) individuals who can provide fresh, new insights.  Finding consumers who are product-involved is not difficult, but not all consumers are “creative” thinkers who can produce new perspectives or have the ability to look at something inside out and make sense of it, or take the familiar and make it strange.  This takes a very special recruiting effort, which is one of the many differences between idea generation and focus group research.

Idea generation sessions or workshops are not focus group research discussions.  Here are a few key ways in which consumer ideation – defined as a balance between loosely-structured brainstorming and the more structured, solution-oriented Synectic method – is differentiated from traditional focus group research:

  • Research objectives.  Focus groups are attempting to understand underlying beliefs and motivations for consumer behavior, compared to consumer ideation where the goal is to make the familiar strange and generate as many ideas or solutions as possible without asking consumers to justify or defend.  Read Full Text