Unfocus Groups are a primary research tool for us at Drawn. Through these natural group settings we discover unique, emerging trends, insights, opinions, and perspectives that affect our clients.

 We developed unfocus groups in response to the limitations we observed with traditional focus groups, which often take place in controlled, classroom-like settings. The rigid setting and structure of these groups tend to elicit top-of-mind responses. We wanted a research tool that allowed us to delve below the surface to learn more about what truly makes people tick. So we decided to utilize unfocus groups.

We select locations for unfocus groups where our participants will feel most relaxed, such as restaurants and wine bars where we might find them gathered with friends on any given night. Participants order appetizers and drinks (one drink limit).

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We ask a handful of select questions during the time to generate discussion. Questions like “What do you nerd out on?” provoke active participation. We then get out of the way to allow participants to interact with one another. These conversations adopt a life of their own, producing spontaneous feedback that helps us understand people at a more foundational level.

Our role during the conversation is to facilitate interactions. We may ask participants to expand on their responses, pose questions that bring focus to the conversation, or just listen and let the conversation flow.

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The most valuable insights often emerge between the questions, not in response to them. Sometimes these insights are clear and unmistakable, but often they’re nuanced and subtle, like reading lines in a poem. Audio recordings of the groups allow us to go back and piece together trends within and among groups.

We still use traditional focus groups to collect feedback about ideas that already exist, such as a client’s new logo or tagline. But they’re limited in their ability to generate new ideas or furnish the kind of insights we discover through unfocus groups.

We’ve refined this method over the years and discovered a number of creative ways to learn more about people. For example, we’ve set up a photo booth and taken pictures of participants holding an item they feel says something unique about them. We then fold these images into our findings from the unfocus group to produce a deep, textured portrait of the people our clients seek to serve.

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Unfocus groups are a memorable, engaging experience for participants (and for us), and are able to generate the kind of relevant feedback our clients value.