Concept-Based Teaching Method

So you need to test your new product concepts against prospects, customers, or the trade. Concept testing explores consumers’ reactions to a proposed product, message, or ad.

But, you have limited time to get voice of the customer reactions and insights about your concepts. And, the target segment is difficult to recruit into a traditional focus group room.

Product and marketing managers face these problems all the time. The good news is that online bulletin board focus groups can help you with concept testing.

What are Online Bulletin Board Focus Groups?

The purpose of online bulletin board focus groups (BBFG) is to gain qualitative insights about prospects and customers. You want to understand their perceptions, attitudes, opinions, and behaviors about a topic.

A bulletin board focus group consists of a moderator, 10 to 20 respondents, and observers.

Moderators, respondents, and observers meet on a bulletin board focus group web site. But, they don’t need to meet at the same time. They can login any time during a BBFG session.

Bulletin board focus groups typically run for concept concept three days. The moderator posts questions and concepts, and respondents post their comments. Observers watch.

How Bulletin Board Focus Groups Work

The moderator recruits, screens and invites respondents to a bulletin board focus group.

But, rather than meet face-to-face, participants login to a secure (https) bulletin board web site, using a user name and password.

The moderator sets the ground rules, builds rapport, and launches questions, concepts, and probes, using a moderator’s discussion guide.

The moderator controls what respondents see, and when they see it: questions, concepts, and respondents’ responses.

Respondents post their comments: opinions, perceptions, attitudes, and descriptions of behaviors.

Observers can direct the moderator to probe respondents’ answers. By the way, the respondents cannot see the observers.

Transcripts are immediately available for analysis. You get instant word for word quotes and insights.

Qualitative Product Concept Testing

Here is how you use bulletin board focus groups for concept testing.

The moderator presents concepts on the BBFG web site. This is where you can show products, ads, messages, and web sites. The moderator shows concepts using several formats: written descriptions, images, video clips, or web sites.

Respondents mark up concepts, using mark up tools available with BBFG technology. For example, they can highlight words and images they like and dislike. And, they can add their comments about specific items in the concept.

You gain valuable voice of the customer information about your concepts. You see specific words, sentences, and images that respondents like and dislike. They reveal their feelings and thoughts about your concepts.

You can see if customers’ perceptions about concepts match up with your perceptions.

Another useful BBFG tool is “uninfluenced answers.” The moderator can control when respondents see other respondents’ posts. With the uninfluenced answer feature turned on, respondents must answer a question before they can see answers from other respondents about the question. The moderator can reduce group bias, using the uninfluenced answer feature. Uninfluenced answers are an ideal tool for concept testing.

Benefits of Bulletin Board Focus Groups

Using bulletin board focus groups, you can assess customers or prospects’ reactions to product concepts, ads, messages, and web sites, quickly. You get rich, voice of the customer word for word quotes and actionable insights.

Plus you avoid travel time associated with traditional face-to-face focus groups, and save thousands of dollars in travel expenses.

And, you can interview busy executives, subject matter experts, professionals, and on-the-go people, who don’t have time to attend face-to-face focus groups.

Also, you get better geographical respondent representation than face-to-face focus groups.

BBFG is a viable research tool. Seventy-one percent of U.S. adults use the Internet (early 2007), according to PEW Internet Research. That is about 160 million U.S. adults.

BBFG is one of the fastest growing market research tools today. Many companies are turning to professional moderators who use it.

Bulletin board focus groups are effective for concept testing. Test new product ideas, ads, and messages, and gain valuable customer insights. Use insights to develop new products and marketing programs.