The standard marketing focus group is bound to have a few “difficult” participants:
- the overbearing respondent who dictates the conversation,
- the self–conscious contributor who repeats others’ ideas and
- the confused participant who can’t quite recall his experience.
Inevitably, this less-than-ideal mix results in a plethora of muddled answers that give little insight into the mind of the consumer.
Enter hypnotist Hal Goldberg, who’s revolutionizing the focus group concept for those who aren’t too timid to lend their minds to the agency. Goldberg believes hypnotizing individuals participating in a focus group eliminates some or all of the pressures that hinder progressive success.
Under hypnosis, a person supposedly will not succumb to the pressures created by others in the room or by his own nervous nature. Instead, he can recall exact instances with clear detail and speak with confidence about his subconscious opinions. In other words, the participant becomes an open source of genuine opinions and ideas.
With this unique insight, marketers are able to gather and compose a comprehensive story rather than a jumble of facts and figures. In fact, the benefits that Goldberg lists seem to parallel what we call the Seven Story Must-Haves, or in other words, the NARRATE that sets the foundation of a compelling storytelling. (Narrate stands as an acronym for novelty, authenticity, relevancy, rich detail, acts, tension, and engagement.) If these benefits come to fruition with the hypnosis method, marketers will find themselves with a window into the minds of uninhibited focus groups, helping them access genuine and unique ideas filled with rich detail.
Of course, not everyone is jumping on the hypnosis bandwagon. Some think the idea is more suitable for a circus tent than an advertising research center. Others have a more cynical mindset, believing the trend is a ploy by marketing and advertising agencies to reach consumers on a subliminal level. However, Goldberg denies these notions and has recruited big name companies such as Nabisco and Audi into his innovative system of research. Clearly something must be working.
A believer or a skeptic? Tell us what you think about this out-of-the-box idea.