Focus Groups

Focus groups in our Tokyo and Osaka studios

Groups are a staple of the qualitative toolkit, however at Carter we believe in bringing creativity to the design and moderation of groups- designing approaches that get to the heart of the issue and the consumer, and working co-creatively with consumers to drive creative solutions for your business.

With over 30 years perfecting our market research approach for Japan and the Asian region, we dig deeper on culture with an international perspective. No focus group design is the same and we completely tailor our groups to your project and objectives, and take an iterative approach; shaping learnings with the team as we go, and testing new hypotheses along the way- to ensure you get clear and actionable recommendations.

What focus groups are great for

Focus groups are great for exploring new product design, website design, ad messaging, positioning statements and category needs. They enable collaborative discussion and engagement amongst consumers, and even workshop style co creation of solutions. At CarterJMRN, we’ve utilized focus groups to help our clients explore everything from underlying category needs (fast food, anti-aging skincare, digital financial services) to new product design (portable vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliance, medical lancing devices) to website design (credit cards, luxury automobiles, laptops) to print and TV advertising messaging (luxury watches, whiskey, haircare products).

Focus group size and duration tailored to your market research objectives

We’ve done all types of groups. From two-person “dyads” that are 60-90 minutes in length – to 12-person, 4-hour workshop-style groups in which consumers work together to co-create entirely new product and service concepts. All focus groups are run in a controlled environment with Japanese interpretation (or without) in our mirrored focus group facilities.

We also have ample experience with extended-length (2.5-3.0 hour) groups that dive deep into category needs and underlying consumer motivations via our Brand DCode™ technique.

Brand DCode™

A creative, workshop style approach for getting to the heart of an issue with consumers- especially those which may be more hidden or not easily defined..

Brand DCode™ is an innovative market research tool for revealing deeper truths

Brand DCode™ is a technique developed by Carter and successfully applied to a broad range of client challenges. The Brand DCode™ approach is a creative, workshop style approach for getting to the heart of an issue or opportunity with consumers, especially those which may be more hidden, underlying or not easily defined. The approach uses a range of visual and written idea stimulus to understand what resonates and explore and shape the priorities for action. Brand DCode™ is an incredibly effective tool applied to understanding; Category Needs, Beliefs, Values, and Communication opportunities.

Typically conducted in a 2.5-3.0 hour extended-length focus group environment with 6~8 respondents, the Brand DCode™ process takes a broad concept and pushes it into a range of practical expressions, allowing you to identify the boundaries and create new positions that are genuinely differentiated from that of your competitors.

It answers questions such as:

  • What are the powerful, underlying consumer/ category/ brand needs?
  • What unique consumer values can I draw upon for this category/ brand?
  • What images, messages and words most effectively communicate the concept?
  • How far can you push the boundaries of resonance, so that you can “own” the positioning vs. your competition?

Beyond simple focus groups, CarterJMRN helps you design a multi-step approach to navigating the course from brand development in Japan through to brand book production, working as an extension of your internal marketing team to identify and document the key essence and parameters of your brand to better inform communications and marketing activities.

Local moderation and discussion guide design in our Japan studios

In addition to assigning moderators with topic-specific experience, we’ve learned over the years that the best moderation comes not only the best training but also an inquisitive and creative approach. Our in-house moderators work with techniques to help respondents open up and share their candid opinions. Further, our moderators are experienced in working with local and international stakeholders, and take a flexible approach to shaping and adapting as the groups progress – including recommending changes to the guide and/or the research stimulus when things can be optimised for greater learning.

We can design focus group discussion guides “from scratch” with inputs from you, or we are happy to take your already-drafted guide and modify it for use in Japan. We will always give you our best advice in order to better connect with and explore ideas with Japanese consumers.

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