I went to an Air Canada focus group after work today. I was selected to participate in the focus group probably because I flew too much last year. I went back go Hong Kong in the beginning of the year, traveled went to India three times and went to Italy for my honey moon. The focus group is exactly like the focus group you see in TV. Eight of us gather in a conference sitting along a large table. The room has video recorder and microphone and one of the wall is a large single side mirror. I wonder what is behind the mirror, could it be the clip board men.
The focus group session is pretty relaxing and fun. The facilitator ask us some air travel related questions and we just have to express our opinion freely. We have some disagreements among the participants, but since there is no stake involve, we just resolve the difference with laughter. The focus group seems designed to test the reception of Air Canada’s new advertisement campaign. We were given four major themes: territory, change, heritage and customer; and many slogans to choose from. We have to identify which slogan fits best under which category and discuss the reason. Then we were divided up into teams and brain storm some ideas for an ad campaign based on the four themes. I suggested Air Canada changing its logo to re-brand its image. The old logo has been around for a long time and its about time to change for a new one. Somehow other people do not buy my idea.
We were trying our best to give honest answers, but I wonder how useful is the focus group. The ideas we came up with are pretty ordinary, if not merely common sense. We just complain about the poor service from our experience and asking more without changing the fare. If that is the information Air Canada is looking for, their marketing department can pretty much read complains on the web. I suspect the focus group is like a psychology experience, the real questions hides underneath the exercises. Probably the clip broad men is taking notes on our reactions instead of merely writing down our words. It is quite an interesting experience and I would like to participate in more focus group. What’s better than BS for two hours and earn $100 in cash? The pay is even better that my hourly wage working as an engineer!