A Common Language: Focus Groups in London

We have learned a lot in our first week doing marketing research in the UK. We knew going into our project that consumer preferences would be different from what we are used to in the US, but the amount of nuance has been surprising. We are doing our best to understand not only what UK consumers are saying about their buying preferences, but also how they are saying it. The expression “two countries separated by a common language” makes a lot more sense on this side of the pond.

Focus group research requires a lot of listening and good observational skills. In the United States, we have experience with the social cues and idioms that are commonly used in speech. Here in London, we have to ask for clarity in many cases while trying not to put off our respondents. It is a difficult balancing act, but it is very rewarding. Each time we learn a new cultural value or expression we gain better insight into the consumers of the UK. In turn, this has allowed us to build out stronger recommendations for our final proposal.

In the next week we will be traveling out of London to Manchester and Edinburgh, and again we will be faced with new challenges on the project. The biggest advantage we have moving forward (aside from understanding a few expressions that span the length of the UK) is that we have a better idea of what sorts of things we don’t know going into the conversations with consumers. We can clarify what we are trying to relate and learn from our respondents without assuming that there won’t be confusion because we “speak the same language”.

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