A few weeks ago, we posted a quote from Henry Ford that went something like this:
"If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse."
Why do we use focus groups? To refine our creative or to ensure that if things go wrong we can respond, "...Well it did well in testing..." At best, these groups help provide a reality check for the brand and agency.
At worst, they influence the creative in horrible ways - diluting the execution making it un-inspiring, boring and terribly forgettable.
Arnold created this video for an opening to one of their presentations.
For those of us in the industry, it leaves you thinking - if they had listened...if Apple had been influenced or the account team scared, would 1984 have been created as it was? Would we still think of it as not only the most expensive ad ever created (at the time), but also one of the most iconic and memorable?
Focus groups can be helpful and smart respondents can point something out that an overly focused agency can forget. But they can't tell you exactly what they want.
If they could, we wouldn't have jobs.