• Insights

Child of the New Century: using a focus group to support a brand refresh

Focus groups can be an insightful way to refine brand and creative work, so it hits the mark for even the least vocal of audiences. The prospect of spending an afternoon listening to someone dissecting your work might not seem like much fun, but when we got the opportunity to do just that at a recent focus group we jumped at the chance.

London focus group

Child of the New Century is an exciting project to be involved with, as it catalogues the lives of young people born at the turn of the millennium to help understand their lives both individually and as a generation.

Connecting with the subjects

Updating the project’s brand to connect with its study subjects, or ‘cohort’, as they turned 17 has been an important step – and equally important was to ensure it hit the mark. So, after developing two concepts we were pleased to be invited to a focus group in a South London school to help hone in on a final version.

Teenagers are notoriously hard to get information from, so focus groups can be a great way to gain direct insight if participants are willing and can be kept on point.

From Nottingham to London

After lugging several A2 boards from Nottingham to London, we were hopeful it would all be worth the effort and provide tangible feedback to aid further development of the chosen concept.

Any fears the attendees might hold back or want to please the person leading the group were quickly dispelled. Presented with the two options, one after the other, they were lively and forward, dismissing one straight away as looking like “it’s for uni students” but embracing the second for its “bright colours” and “magazine-like” feel.

There was a strong view that everything had to be relevant, with a clear direction to the flow of information. Anything they felt didn’t have these qualities was dismissed, with phrases like “what does it mean?” and “I wouldn’t read that” heard a few times.

As the project is image heavy, we also took several picture boards along. These were loosely grouped into themes: travel, technology, groups and individuals. In a world ruled by Snapchat and Instagram, imagery is an important part of young people’s lives and a medium many are intimate and comfortable with.

Capturing direct insights

The excited reaction to our second option was nothing compared to the fervour these image boards generated. The participants leapt from their seats to pour over the boards, pointing and exclaiming over one image after another. Some hit the mark due to location, action and look. Others weren’t as popular – deemed too posed, or the subjects too polished.

The group wanted to see images of real people doing real things; subjects needed to be relatable. Overall, images where subjects looked relaxed and inactive were preferred but some more active images were seen to prove teenagers “aren’t all lazy”.

For active images, there appeared to be a fine line between hitting the mark and feeling outdated. With viral activities appearing and disappearing so quickly, the thing to do last week becomes the thing never to been seen doing this week, and images depicting activities need to be chosen carefully if they’re to appeal. Our subjects wanted images to represent a world that they recognise: brightly coloured, diverse, and one that and doesn’t need to treat them as older or more grown-up, just as long as it doesn’t treat them as younger.

A clearer direction to inform a creative concept

The information collected from the experience has not only enabled a preferred route to be identified, but also helped develop that choice further. It may not have provided all the answers but it has most definitely provided a clearer direction and a steer on the right questions to ask going forward.

Carrying out focus groups to inform a creative concept can be the key to unlocking the right creative that appeals directly to your target audience. Contact us to discuss how we can help.

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