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Five times that brands should’ve asked the audience

Focus Group

At theEword, we invest a lot of time, money and effort into performing market research for our clients; and with good reason too.

To highlight why we put such emphasis on our market research, we’ve put together five examples of what happens when brands think its a good idea to go it alone without any audience insights.

Be warned, the results aren’t pretty.

No.1 – The pointless product

Pen Lids

Few products have been as pointless (and downright offensive) as  Bic’s ill-fated ‘Pens for Women’ range.

The cost of developing, manufacturing, marketing and distributing a product far outweigh the cost of a quick survey or focus group. That’s why it beggars belief that Bic didn’t consult anyone to see if there was an actual need for this product before bringing it to the market.

Instead of profits, this product, rightfully, generated hundreds of sarcastic comments and Amazon reviews, which are well worth a read.

No.2 – The money waster


This was in my letter box last week. It’ll be 20 years before I’m even eligible for this product. In fact, how many over 50s do you think live in the Northern Quarter?

What a waste of money (and paper).

Effective planning relies upon understanding your audience – who they are, where they are and their frame of mind when they see your ad or content. This helps you to plan the locations in which you place your outdoor ads or direct mail, the publications you advertise in or contribute to, and of course, the social media channels, keywords, targeting and ad-scheduling you use.

No. 3 – The ad offender

Beach body ready

Some marketing campaigns go beyond just wasting money, and actually lose customers by causing mass outrage.

Whilst it’s hard to believe that every single person working on a campaign idea (including the client) will fail to see something which could be construed as racist/sexist/stupid, it can happen. Running this campaign idea past an impartial focus group could potentially have saved this brand’s reputation.

No. 4 – The unappealing website

While web designers and developers are experts at their craft, they’re not often the target audience for the sites that they build.

Does your young, hip designer really know how to create a site that needs to appeal to over 50s?

When finalising their designs, are they taking into account that 90% of traffic is actually from mobile devices?

It’s surprising to discover the amount of information that can be gleaned from either user testing or by using a web-design focus group with the actual target audience. Doing either of these things will help to reveal any bumps in the user journey and will help you to build a site that, as well as being good-looking, will also be easy for the user to navigate.

No. 5 – The unwanted rebrand

In 1985, Coca-Cola changed their recipe and launched ‘New Coke’. While blind taste tests reportedly performed well, as we all know, it’s often not just about the flavour. Fans were NOT happy about the change to their beloved classic product, and complained in their hundreds of thousands. Just three months later it was pulled from the shelves. The market research should have asked people what they felt, not just what they tasted.

Help us prevent future disasters.

If you have opinions (which we are sure that you do), sign up to our market research database, and take part in surveys, interviews and focus groups to inform our work.

If you’re a company looking to tap into our marketing insights to help plan your next campaign, get in touch today!


Written by Michael Palmer


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