“C

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

ome in, come in, wel­come!” beamed Mary as she ush­ered me i n t hrough t he door. “You got here just in time!” I was re­lieved, as I had been un­der strict in­struc­tions to come a good half-hour be­fore the oth­ers were due to ar­rive. “You re­ally don’t want the par­tic­i­pants to see you be­fore­hand. That would be re­ally bad form.”

I had just joined the prod­uct de­vel­op­ment di­vi­sion of one of the large re­tail banks and had been in­vited to watch a fo­cus group. I had never heard of a fo­cus group be­fore, and had no idea what to ex­pect. My work col­leagues as­sured me it was the best way to get real feed­back from real cus­tomers about new prod­uct ideas.

Mary led me through a door into a small room. It was com­pletely dark, ex­cept for the light shin­ing through a huge plate glass win­dow that took up a whole wall. Mary pointed to the win­dow. “See the room on the other side? That’s where the par­tic­i­pants are go­ing to sit. And Steven is go­ing to fa­cil­i­tate the whole thing. If there is any­thing you want to tell him dur­ing the ses­sion, just let me know and we’ll bring him out.”

A few min­utes later, eight people trudged into the room and sat down at the ta­ble. They looked re­mark­ably

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