Times are changing…

28th November 2017

Traditional wisdom says that focus groups happen in the evening – ‘after work’ – when people can freely give their two penn’orth on everything from credit cards and cupcakes to washing machines and food on the move. But is ‘after work’ really the best, or most relevant time to carry out research these days?

When you stop and think about it, running groups during the day is not really as odd as it first sounds. There was a time when 9-5 was the dominant model of a day’s work, meaning many people wouldn’t attend research during that time. But times are changing… Freelancing and self-employment are on a steep upward curve. Shift work is increasingly prevalent, and more and more people are employed in the service and experience sectors – outside of the 9-5 culture.  And around 7.5million workers in traditional ‘9-5’ jobs are officially in flexible working agreements.
Even people who, on paper, are in full time, Monday to Friday jobs expect a level of unofficial flexibility (often in return for being more flexible themselves). This is especially true of Millennials – the target audience at the centre of so many briefs. They’re the largest generation in the workplace and definitely have fresh ideas about how, when and where they work.

The notion of people being available during the day was brought home to me in the summer when – on a week day, at short notice, I attended the 5th day of the Test Match between England and South Africa. Tickets only went on sale that morning, and by 12 noon, several thousand people were in the ground hoping for an England win. Notably, the crowd included a demographically diverse range of people. All cricket fans, of course – but young and old, families, friendship groups and couples. All able to attend a day-time event at short notice.

So times are changing. Focus group times, that is. With enough notice, and the right recruiter, it is possible to speak to ‘working adults’ during the traditional working day, with 2 big advantages… Participants are more alert (in all honesty, are people really at their best to discuss the minutiae of product concepts at 8.30pm?) and also more engaged, having slotted research into their day rather than just rocking up after work for the sandwiches and drinks. Many of our clients have seen the benefit of this changed way of working – why not try it on your next project too?