Market Research, Focus Groups & Reviews

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Yesterday was a busy day. I had to “hike” to London as I was taking part in a focus group. This was something I never done before and it got me thinking – Do methods like this really work? Do they really bring about an effect? Can we trust to what was told?

Without going into too many details –The focus group I took part in was about an online newspaper and changes we would advise to implement in order to make it better. There were 7 of us; 7 strangers from different backgrounds and clearly different interests. At the beginning of the session I did not believe it would work at all, some people did not have any opinion or just did not want to speak up. As we progressed further we became more comfortable, the gloves were off, no more sugar coating, people were speaking the truth… or were they?

This is what puzzles me.  Are people truthful in situations like this? Can reviews really be trusted?

Sometimes when I read an online review I cannot believe that someone actually wrote it – almost word by word taken from the product manufacturer or service provider website. What is the point of this? And how can people sign their names under posts like that?

I always believed that reviews are supposed to be honest. Otherwise, there really is not much sense to them existing. They should be called sponsored posts. I do not get why people feel the need to sugar coat the product or service. Giving a positive review to something which is not perfect doesn’t do anyone any good. It provides false information for future users and it robs the manufacturer or the provider of potentially very important insight on how to make it more user friendly, how to fix what is not perfect or just make it “better”.

I know that reviews are a huge part of some bloggers lives and making a bad review might end the relationship with a company, which provided the product or service in the first place. Did you ever think that a dishonest review might put you in a negative light? I, personally, would never sign my name under a positive review of something I wasn’t 100% happy about. Do your loyalties lay with your readers or the providing company?

Let’s take my short review I did for Vanish – I wrote only about things I tested. I know that this product may well be able do so much more, but I did not personally try it and I have no idea if this really works. After reading a few other reviews about the same product, I concluded that people are either spending weeks testing all stains removing methods on various stain types or that they just, as they say, writing what is said on the tin. If these reviews were the result of an honest tried and tested process that’s fantastic and I really appreciate the effort and determination, but if they are written simply in order to please the manufacturer – what is the point?

I used to trust in reviews much more that I do nowadays. Now I tend to look for anonymous posts, as they strike me as being more honest, simply due to the fact that the author has nothing to lose.

I would really want to know what you think on the subject. Do you do reviews? Would you write a review which puts a manufacturer or a service provider in a bad light? Please let me know; I would love to hear your thoughts.

I love all comments :-)