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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP - INNOVATION

The Accelerated Learning Group
Maximizes the Value of Consumer Groups

 

The Accelerated Learning Group Maximizes the Value of Consumer Groups


Station WagonWith so many people taking vacation, it is good to think about maximizing the value of the time off. It is easy to focus solely on the time spent at the destination or site visited. Maximizing the value of the journey time too, possibly a significant portion of the time off, can increase the total experience of all of our time off.

It's the journey that matters in your vacation time and your research

Similarly, in conducting consumer group research such as focus groups it is easy to focus solely on the time needed to conduct the research without considering the time needed to garner insight from that research. This creates a dilemma because the more groups that are conducted likely means less time to analyze it and find insight. Cutting the number of groups to get less consumer voice isn't the answer. How can you spend the right amount of time in research and have enough time for analysis to gain great insight without adding more days to the process?

The Accelerated Learning Group solves the dilemma posed. How? Realize you are buying insight not research. The Accelerated Learning Group is a way to conduct multiple consumer groups at one time. Consumer focus groups are conducted simultaneously in one large room (without observation room/glass). Each group is at a separate table with its own moderator. The client and consulting team split up among the group tables so that each group has observers. These observers will report findings to the whole team later that day in an insight development session. When possible, we utilize a creative facility or open space format to enhance the experience for consumers and allow for various interactions and methods for insight gathering. By conducting the research groups in a city at one time, it frees up time for insight discovery and the team involvement in the development of a concept, a strategy recommendation or an action plan. The value in research is realized from the new found time to uncover insights and create solutions rather than spending most of one's time merely observing.

For example, think about a traditional research plan to conduct up to four focus groups in one day. You arrive at 9am. Group 1 is from 10am – 12pm., Group 2 is from 1pm – 3pm, Group 3 is from 4 – 6pm, Group 4 is from 7 – 9pm, and now more than 12 hours into the day it is time to debrief. The session is visibly forced, cut short and completed quickly 30 minutes later by 10pm. Even with three focus groups in a day, it is still an 11 or 12 hour day or more. By contrast, in an Accelerated Learning Group, team training starts similarly at 8am; however, all four groups are conducted simultaneously that morning. Thus, research finishes by noon leaving the afternoon free and the team fresh for insight and collaboration typically completed by 5pm. The process provides the same value in data collection, a lot more time for team collaboration and eliminates long, grueling days. The advantage is the same if you conduct the Accelerated Learning Groups in the evening prior.

By having three or four groups conducted simultaneously, the Accelerated Learning Group method provides several advantages over traditional consumer research such as focus groups:
  • Keeps focus and attention of team participants on proper information gathering because they are not fatigued through the process.
  • Minimizes time away from the office and long days.
  • No glass separating the team and consumers which promotes active listening and valuable team/consumer interaction that would be lost in a traditional facility setting. This requires prior team training and a moderator to maintain control and facilitate the progress for each consumer group.
  • Provides instant insight, both research and insight completed that same day. This addresses research needs such as a quick response to competitor action or developing consumer statements or attributes needed for quantitative research.
  • Can expand the time with consumers 50-100% so that a typical 2 hour group becomes 3 or 4 hours, the extra time for interaction inside and even outside the facility in context (e.g. shopping, product trial or conducting tasks) can allow the team to garner deeper insights.
The Accelerated Learning Group method is a very flexible platform to interact with single and mixed groups of consumers. There are endless ways to creatively garner deeper insight such as setting up stations where consumers or innovation team members rotate, re-organizing groups by various tasks or usage behaviors and engaging in ideation techniques. It is limitless when used with any insight technique or solution-derived method.

Consumer groups provide their own unique insight when used not just for group discussion but also through group interaction and activities . We want to stress that as with any research method, qualitative consumer groups are not the only solution. In innovation work, especially, consumer group methods are typically used in conjunction with observational (e.g. ethnographic) techniques, quantitative methods such as segmentation and concept testing, strategic market analysis and proper decision-making to go from inspiration to an optimized concept or new business ready for market entry.

In conclusion, Valen Accelerated Learning Groups can simultaneously increase quality of insight while minimizing the time to complete qualitative consumer groups. By utilizing this unique method, we can optimize consumer group research whether in early stage front end innovation, gathering input for quantitative research design, a capstone concept optimization, or having a need for insight for quick competitive reaction. Realizing the value of group insight work by reconfiguring the ideal way to conduct consumer group research is game changing for insight results.
 

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