In his search for yet another nail to whack with his mighty Bloghammer, Steve Rubel takes aim at a piece in Businessweek on the imminent death of the focus group, the market research tool that involves sitting people in a room and then asking them questions about whether they like their chocolate bars crunchy or chewy.
Apparently, marketing people are getting fed up with focus groups because they get misleading answers from them. But marketers have been fed up with focus groups for a long as I can remember. The difference now is that they have an alternative: direct contact with punters through the Internet. This is where Rubel wields his Bloghammer: "shockingly [the story] ignores monitoring blogs and other consumer channels".
Quick, call the blog police. An online article that does not mention blogs? That has to be stopped, clearly.
The article is a 1000-word piece about focus groups and the alternative offered by the Web. It's not professing to be the complete guide to technology in marketing and it has a 1000-word space to fill: focus is good when you are writing for that length. The angle in the piece is primarily about consumers providing information confidentially through the Internet to companies because they dislike the peer pressure of focus groups, which seem like scenes from 12 Angry Men in comparison.
Now, unless I've misunderstood something about blogging, it is not confidential. It takes place in a public forum, which will inevitably lead to self-censorship - which is not necessarily a bad thing when writing for an unknown audience - and peer pressure. I have no idea whether the writer considered adding something on blogging, but the confidentiality angle they used to my mind would have ruled out covering blogs and forums pretty early on during the research phase.
And let's face it, does anyone want to use blogs to do the same job as focus groups? as a company are you going to blog about some secret project have going on and then get everybody else to blog about what a great/lame idea it is? Even the seemingly endless stream of Web 2.0 companies offering controlled alpha and beta programmes ask bloggers not to er...blog about them too much.