Author Archives: David Van Nuys

Smart Watches Poised to Become Another Tool for Online Market Research

As new technology is introduced to the marketplace, consumers adopt new products and shuffle them into their daily routines. This is increasingly true for smart watches, which have significantly grown in usefulness and popularity over the last few years. New features that allow people to receive notifications, and track exercise performance and sleep cycles all help to provide greater depth of information for researchers. When combined with follow-up interviews or in-depth discussions, smart watches are extremely valuable tools when conducting online market research. Understanding the growing trend of consumers tracking and sharing personal data with smart watches will help organizations make the most out of these new opportunities.

Gathering Quantitative Data on Consumers

Although still in their early stages of development, smart watches are already doing a lot for companies in the fitness, health, and pharmaceutical industries. The positive about smart watches is that there is a wide variety of options available and a range of price points to appeal to all consumers. According to AndroidHeadlines.com, the market for these watches is expected to explode in 2015. Even more smart watches are expected to find their way onto the wrists of even more customers when the Apple Watch hits shelves later this year.

Currently, smart watches measure a number of vital signs that users want to track. These include the following health metrics:

  • Changes in weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Sleep patterns
  • Diet plans

In addition, runners and fitness enthusiasts can log miles run and weights lifted so they can follow along with an exercise routine. All of this information is displayed and easily accessed on a smart watch, making it much simpler and appealing for people to use the watch and companion apps on their phone or tablet. When companies make apps for a smart watch, the information collected connects to apps or mobile sites on Android or IOS devices. As a result, researchers get the quantitative information they need in a way that is most convenient for all parties.

Following Up for Qualitative Information

After information is collected, researchers can gain greater insight by reviewing the data with consumers. An online market research plan that includes one-on-one online interviews, online focus groups, online diaries or multi-day online bulletin-board discussions helps go beyond numbers and connects organizations with their consumers on a deeper level. These convenient research methods build off of the data gathered by smart watches and mobile apps, and help researchers understand the causes behind certain consumer behaviors.

For example, a medical company may see that research subjects wearing smart watches to bed log erratic sleep schedules. In order to see why this is the case, they can use online interviews and focus groups to learn if a person’s lifestyle, such as having to work late, or getting up early to exercise, has an effect in any way.

Connecting with consumers, and using the most advanced and relevant market research tools available, helps companies and organizations get the highest quality and greatest level of accuracy in qualitative and quantitative data. To learn more about online research methods for your company, contact a representative at e-FocusGroups today at (707) 585-7363.

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In-Home Ethnographic Research Using Smartphones

Conducting ethnographic research on your consumer base gives your organization a much deeper understanding of who your customers are and what is important to them. With this information, your business is able to better anticipate consumer needs, and provide everything from products and services to company information and customer support, in the way that is most effective for building lasting relationships. In order to gain this insight into how your target audience thinks and feels, it is necessary to complete online market research that captures customers’ attention in the moment, so you get real-time information that leads to actionable intelligence. Using smartphones, research firms are able to conduct in-home ethnographic research for less money and in a shorter timeframe than other methodologies. In the past, ethnographic research has entailed sending a whole team of people to the consumer’s home to observe the specifics of their home environment and, perhaps, the ways in which they use certain products or services. This meant sending the moderator, a videographer, and one or more of the client team to the consumer’s home. It’s expensive, time, consuming and intrusive. The smart phone, with it’s video and audio capabilities, gives the researcher and client team a non-intrusive way to be in the consumer’s home. The consumer can even give them a tour of their entire home environment and even introduce them to other members of the family and so on.

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The Benefits of In-Home Research Using Smartphones

In order to get the qualitative and quantitative data your organization is looking for, it is necessary to reach consumers where they are most comfortable. At home, consumers can participate in research studies at a time that is most convenient for them. This creates an environment in which participants can open up freely and allows greater access for researchers to achieve their objectives.

The benefit of using smartphones during the research process is that a team can reach consumers no matter where they are. Whereas telephone surveys or in-person interviews require consumers to be in a specific place at a specific time, smartphone data can be accessed by researchers at any time. Participants can record videos using their phone or take photos as part of an assignment, and then upload them for the study in order to provide a more detailed picture into their lives. For example, a study gauging how consumers use a new home appliance will be more substantive when participants can show researchers, rather than providing only oral or written responses to questions.

Following Up with Focus Groups and Multi-Day Interviews

It is important to gather all of the qualitative and quantitative data possible during a research study so that an organization can have useful information about its target audience moving forward. After collecting data via a participant’s smartphone, it is highly beneficial to conduct follow-up online market research with in-depth individual interviews, focus groups, or multi-day discussions.

Additionally, by assigning participants small projects to complete using their smartphone over the course of a focus group session, businesses open up new opportunities to connect with their audience and learn more about each and every customer. This helps build profiles that can be used when projecting how a new product or service will be received by the market, and how individuals can be reached through public relations and marketing efforts.

Smartphone videos, photos, and audio recordings give insight into how a consumer feels about a product or topic in the moment. This gives a clearer picture to researchers and overcomes the obstacle of people having to recall specific emotions, sometimes days after an event. To learn more about using smartphones when conducting ethnographic studies, contact an expert at e-FocusGroups today, at (707) 585-7363.

Mobile Shop-Alongs and Online Market Research

Understanding what goes through your customers’ minds is a key objective when it comes to conducting online market research. Essentially, the thought/feeling process of a customer leads him or her through the entire purchase cycle, and it is the job of the research team to find out if and how that can be influenced in order to help a business achieve its objectives and complete more sales. However, traditional market research requires participants to recall their thought processes and emotions while in a store or when shopping online. The only truly candid time a moderator or researcher gets is when gauging reactions in the moment. Mobile shop-alongs, like other digital innovations have been a game changer.

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How Do Mobile Shop-Alongs Work?

In the past, the only way to observe a shopper in his or her own element was to send a researcher along to a store to follow the customer around to observe and perhaps ask follow-up questions. There is also the option to use hidden cameras to track shoppers and record their comments, but that opens up privacy concerns, and a consumer may not be as candid as desired.

Mobile shop-alongs help solve these challenges by connecting researchers with willing participants who will share their shopping process, moment by monent. By recording themselves with audio and video while at the store, a customer gives direct access to his or her in-store behaviors. This research technique takes the physical researcher out of the equation so that a participant is uninterrupted. Doing so helps to remove influence bias and keeps shoppers from feeling as self-conscious as they otherwise might during the process.

Capitalizing on Mobile Shop-Along Data

Although you can gain tremendous insight into someone’s shopping habits with the help of a mobile shop-along, it is often desirable to dig deeper to gain as much understanding about the data as possible. Conducting follow-up interviews, either individually at length or through a focus group, supplements an organization’s online market research. This gives researchers the opportunity to ask further questions about the reasons behind a particular response to a product, its price, shelf placement, visual impact, or the overall shopping atmosphere, for example.

Mobile shop-alongs can also be integrated into a research strategy for multi-day discussions with a group of participants. Consumers can take a day to go to a retail outlet and record audio or video of their thoughts, to report on with the group the next day. By allowing consumers to join a discussion from the comfort of their homes, researchers remove some of the barriers to communication and, in turn, get participants that are more engaged and active.

Video and audio notes make it easier for shoppers to convey their thoughts in the moment, without needing to write them down or recall them in front of the group, later, after hours have gone by. Instead, the research team gets an immediate snapshot that provides actionable information that can be used when building new strategies in the future. Learn more about how to take advantage of mobile shop-alongs and online focus groups by contacting a professional at e-FocusGroups today at (707) 585-7363.

Automated Facial Coding for Online Market Research

Quantitative and qualitative online market research, conducted through focus groups and individual in-depth interviews, gives your organization valuable information about how your target audience perceives your company and its products. However, the fact remains that focus group participants still find it difficult or uncomfortable to open up completely and express how they feel when communicating with others or with a moderator. Beyond this, research suggests that often their reactions are unconscious and therefore they can’t really articulate them. Automated facial coding helps market researchers overcome these obstacles by giving deeper insight into a participant’s emotional state, as well as reactions to materials presented in audio and video formats. Understanding this technology and how it relates to your market research strategy will allow you to gather the high quality data your organization needs to improve operations and customer satisfaction moving forward.

Online Market Research

How Does Automated Facial Coding Work?

Automated facial coding works by scanning the facial features of a participant in an online focus group or interview. After the software is integrated into a study, it records the reactions and expressions of the participant and detects whether that person is smiling, concentrating, surprised, or disgusted. It does this by recognizing the human face and setting anchor points for reference in such places as the nose, eyebrows, mouth, and eyes. As a person’s expression changes, the system recognizes this and determines if their emotion fits into one of the four categories.

As a result, the researcher is able to see in real time how a participant is feeling during a discussion, in addition to getting the verbal and written responses desired. Researchers can then see all of their participants’ data and compare it to the group average responses to see the emotions that a particular advertisement or product evokes.

How Do Organizations Benefit from Automated Facial Coding?

Automated facial coding is being touted as the hottest new thing connecting neuroscience to market research. Since it benefits both quantitative and qualitative research, this technolgoy can be used to supplement online focus groups and online individual in-depth interviews. In addition to measuring emotional responses to conversations or various questions, facial coding is especially useful for applications where a moderator isn’t directly involved with the process, because this can be the time when a participant is most candid.

Playing commercials or prepared promotional videos and gauging how a person reacts in real time gives researchers unparalleled insight into what makes someone feel a certain way. When organizations are able to get data in reports and analyze them, they are able to see which aspects of their marketing strategy influence their target audience the most. This knowledge is extremely helpful for clients and for online market research providers.

The president of e-FocusGroups, David Van Nuys Ph.D., says this is but one example of the new technical tools that are increasingly available to us at e-FocusGroups to help our clients probe more deeply and creatively into respondent reactions.

Learn how your company can access even more information about your target market by using automated facial coding in your next online focus group campaign. Contact a representative at e-FocusGroups today to get started at (707) 585-7363.

What Do Clients Look For in Market Research?

As clients build their market research strategies, they have varying sets of objectives to meet. These objectives may be business related, such as increasing market share after the launch of a new product, or painting an accurate picture of the core demographic to improve an advertising campaign. However, before working with a firm to conduct online market research, both internal and external clients have another checklist of priorities and expectations moving forward. In addition to the final report that conveys actionable results that provide value to the organization, researchers must also maximize client satisfaction along the way in order to be successful.

Expectations

Before getting started, it is important for clients and researchers to be on the same page about a campaign and what results can be achieved. Be clear about the research plan and timeline so that everyone shares the same expectations. At the same time, it is the research team’s duty to convey any possibility of unexpected results or events before the plan is implemented. Negative surprises during the process aren’t fun for anyone, and openness is the key to being able to achieve the stated objectives.

Communication

Clients and researchers need to be able to communicate effectively; otherwise, the plan is doomed to fail. During initial expectation meetings, set up a communication schedule that works for all parties, including the frequency of status updates, and the preferred method and point of contact moving forward. Clients need to be in the loop during the research phase and expect relative ease when it comes to communication. When the time comes to deliver the results, clients do not want to sit through lengthy presentations and have numbers thrown around. Instead, being able to tell a story with the results in a way that conveys actionable insight is far more valuable.

Account Management

Ultimately, clients understand the big picture and want the research campaign to add to that picture. However, that means that it is up to the research supplier to craft a plan that maximizes value on limited resources, while providing results that are new and impressive. Clients look for suppliers that are proactive and experts in the industry. Due to shrinking timelines and the need for quick turnarounds, clients partner with those that understand and work around their needs.

Report Content

When conducting online market research, clients want to work with firms that have expertise in the field. As more traditional research methodologies give way to faster and more efficient communication online, it is necessary for research firms to offer a unique approach that will result in the highest quality data. Thorough data analysis is extremely important as well. As mentioned before, telling a story is more important than presenting endless spreadsheets of information. Simple to understand infographics and charts support the story, and are easily accessed in the decision making process that follows.

Clients want research done right by professionals who know how to access the target market. Knowing the audience and collecting data, either through surveys, interviews, or online focus groups, helps both sides achieve their goals. Learn more about market research online and how the resources can benefit your organization by contacting an expert at e-FocusGroups at (707) 585-7363.

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The Importance of Stories in Qualitative Market Research

Conducting qualitative market research is an essential part of the business cycle because it provides an organization with insight into consumer sentiment and brand performance in the marketplace. As an alternative to collecting quantitative data that takes time and energy to sort through, these days companies frequently rely on a qualitative approach in order to more swiftly get information and recommendations on action items that can affect the business. While comprehensive data analysis based on detailed research completed following months of studies and testing has been standard in the past, it might not be as effective in many cases today. Being able to tell a story to executives and decision makers opens up new possibilities for growth and revenue moving forward.

Cut Through the Clutter

Clients and executives do not have the time or resources to dedicate to lengthy market research projects. Sitting through presentations that are time consuming is a drain, especially when it is easy to get lost in all of the facts and figures being conveyed. On the other hand, as a market researcher it is important to streamline the process by presenting information in a clear and concise story that captures the essence of what the data shows.

Whether your organization completes in-depth interviews with customers, or puts on an online focus group over a few days, the goal is to present results in a way that is easily understood. A well-articulated story is clear and detailed, and shows clients and management the implications of different actions they might take based on the findings of the research.

Why Stories Work

Reporting on hundreds of PowerPoint slides explaining demographic shifts and emerging market trends is tedious. The information overload can turn out to be a waste if the key findings are not memorable and impactful. A story is an effective tool for market researchers because it achieves a number of goals.

  • By contrast. The human brain is pre-programmed to be especially responsive to stories. This is a capacity shaped by millennia of humans sitting around a camp fire to here stories of the hunt or fables that build group history and identity. A narrative arc grabs our attention. Today’s most effective reports are cast into a narrative format whenever possible.
  • Stories solve problems. Company executives have a list of business objectives, and they want to know the information they need to reach those goals. A story conveys the main results of the research and allows for the making of informed decisions.
  • Stories are efficient. As all firms compete to deliver results in shorter business cycles, market researchers must be able to provide value in a timely manner. Simply put, increasing the efficiency of a study or focus group is of the utmost importance. Telling a story at its conclusion streamlines the process and shows how the data collected relates to the big picture.

As you build your presentation following the conclusion of qualitative market research, understand how the results tie into the organization’s stated research and business goals. Use visuals to assist in delivering the message to the audience and make sure that the content you include is direct. When you are finished creating the presentation, it should be formatted in such a way that leads the viewer to see a compelling story that he or she can act upon if need be.

Learn more about crafting an effective market research story by contacting an e-FocusGroups expert today at (707) 585-7363.

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Targeting Millennials with Online Market Research

Often the success of your organization depends on its ability to make meaningful connections with its target audience. Rather than just creating a product and selling it at various retail outlets, it is increasingly common and necessary for companies to go further and engage their customers in order to build trust and win business moving forward. This is especially true with Millennials, as younger consumers and those entering the job force represent a significant change in ideals and spending habits than their older family members. Through the measured use of focus groups and online market research, organizations are able to learn more about Millennials and get vital information that will shape policy decisions in the future.

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Characteristics of the Millennial Demographic

According to Nielsen’s 2014 report on the demographic, Millennials are considered to be people born between 1977 and 1995, and are between the ages of 20 and 38. They account for around 77 million people, which is about 24 percent of the total U.S. population. As a generation that grew up with the Internet, Millennials value social interaction and are most comfortable conducting business online.

Through the use of social networks and word-of-mouth, Millennials research products before purchase and put weight into experiences that others have had with the same company. These individuals care about their close friends and family, as well as various causes, and consider various potential impacts before rushing to make a purchase. Having lived in and grown up during the economic recession of the 2000s, Millennials are interested in finding lasting quality and value before buying something.

Challenges to Address

Millennials carry a lot of stress and have myriad responsibilities at the personal, familial, and professional levels. Student loan debt puts financial pressure on this group, which makes it essential for businesses to understand their audience, and demonstrate compassion and value. With an ever-changing marketplace and evolving preferences of Millennial shoppers, it is important to conduct online market research in order to gain insight into what this group finds most valuable.

At the same time, the Internet has given a voice and outlet to millions of users and countless businesses all vying for the attention of your audience. Whereas in the past your organization relied on strategic placement of radio and television advertisements to reach customers, now you must focus on constant communication and making an unforgettable connection. Market research shows your business different trends in the marketplace, such as spending habits and driving forces behind the decisions Millennials make. The experts at e-FocusGroups have the tools needed to generate the most value from market research.

Shopping Habits

According to Accenture, Millennials spend a collective $600 billion each year. While they have the disposable income to make large purchases, they are also tough to market to because Millennials do not care for direct advertising and expect more value from companies. In addition to researching products before purchasing, Millennials are also completing transactions in all new ways. As pioneers of the Digital Age, the younger generation is more comfortable buying goods and interacting with companies from their phone or tablet.

What this means for companies is that focusing on technology and making it as easy as possible for customers to find information online is paramount. Learn more about the Millennials and how to connect with this important demographic by reaching out to a representative at e-FocusGroups at (707) 585-7363.

How to Understand Your Marketplace

Before you can conduct any meaningful research to benefit your business, you must first be able to understand the marketplace your organization serves. A marketplace refers to your customers, their characteristics, and how your company operates in order to fulfill their needs with your products and services. Prior to developing a strategy to win more customers, you will also need to study your competition and the driving forces behind growth in the marketplace. In order to be successful in your industry, you must be able to complete online market research that gives your organization a deeper understanding of the competition, the factors that are a threat to success, and how your company can leverage its strengths to stay one step ahead.

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Find Out “Who”

One of the first things you need to do in order to understand your marketplace is find out who the competition is. Who makes similar products, and what is their overall market share? What strategies do they employ that help them grow their business? Answering these questions allows your company to identify growing players in your industry, as well as tactics that you may think about using to improve your relationship with your own customers.

“Who” also relates to your customers – those that have the final say in whether or not your products are purchased. What values do your customers hold? What is a consumer’s typical purchasing behavior? How do your target customers feel about your latest brand initiative? Online market research helps find answers to these questions so your business can be better in tune with the key role players in the market.

What Is the Marketplace?

While it may sound simple, being able to describe your market in basic terms is anything but. To be able to understand your marketplace and how you can succeed, your team must know what makes it tick. Study how your products test in various segments of the United States or in countries around the world. It is also smart to see the current state of the market in terms of monetary volume and competition, and to compare it to where it was five or ten years ago.

Uncover trends in your industry and compare them to past projections to see how the marketplace may grow in the future. Using the insight you gain from this research helps you see new opportunities for expansion, as well as obstacles to overcome.

Where Is the Marketplace?

Are your customers shopping for products in a physical retail location, or is more money spent online? Have you seen a surge in purchases from mobile devices? Build a market research plan that engages your consumers and clients so that your business can see the current business landscape and make any necessary changes or improvements. This will help improve your relationships, and give your research team the data and information needed to outperform the competition.

Focus groups connect you with consumers directly, and provide qualitative results that lead to more informed decisions, because today’s businesses are run on more than just quantitative questions and answers. Learn more about how market research can give your organization a better understanding of the current marketplace by contacting a representative of e-FocusGroups at (707) 585-7363.

Emerging Trends in Qualitative Research

As organizations and companies look for more ways to conduct online market research, it is necessary to understand the methods that have worked in the past, and the changes that must be made in the future. For example, sending out a research team to administer surveys of random shoppers at your store might have worked wonderfully in the past, but as your company expands its online offerings and reaches customers around the globe, that might not be viable anymore. Learning about emerging trends in qualitative research allows you to spot areas for improvement in your strategy so you can continue to strengthen your relationship with your target audience. Additionally, these trends will help ensure your market research techniques remain effective and worthwhile.

Sentiment from Industry Experts

One of the best ways to understand the direction of the market research industry is to poll professionals about what does and doesn’t work. This is exactly what GreenBook does with its quarterly GRIT Report, which stands for GreenBook Research Industry Trends. The Fall 2014 GRIT Report examined responses from 3,175 participants, composed of industry suppliers and clients, and discovered the following trends:

  • Increased use of tablets and smartphones is driving change in how research is conducted and analyzed.
  • Qualitative market research continues to be an important tool to meet the needs of organizations.
  • Research organizations and their clients must also explore new methodologies to adapt to change.

These responses show that as we move into 2015 and beyond, it is more important than ever to anticipate and adapt to changes in the customer landscape. To understand these changes and find out how your business can act to meet the needs of your customers, qualitative market research is the key.

Overcoming Market Research Limitations

Another area of focus for organizations is to find ways that allow them to conduct the qualitative market research they need within tighter budgets, or by using changing methods. With the shift toward mobile for customers, companies are taking advantage of online market research that uses focus groups to find out how consumers feel about a brand, and the reasons behind the purchases they make. Budgetary constraints are a tremendous obstacle for companies to overcome, and utilizing a focus group run online allows a business to save on staffing, materials, and travel costs.

When putting a market research plan into action, businesses also want to get the most value out of their time and money. Gaining access to as much insight and detail is critical so that information can be used as needed. Laddering and other focus group techniques probe for participant responses that will benefit product development, advertising, branding, distribution, and more.

Convenient Connection with Customers

At the end of the day, being able to connect with your customers in a way that is mutually convenient will help produce the most valuable data, especially from a qualitative standpoint. Online market research helps your team solicit feedback from customers around the world and gives them the opportunity to participate from the comfort of their own home. As a result, you’ll receive more candid responses with an online focus group and have the opportunity to run in-depth, multi-day discussions or real-time 90-minute sessions, according to your needs. To learn more about emerging trends in qualitative market research and how online focus groups can benefit your organization, contact a representative at e-FocusGroups at (707) 585-7363.

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Laddering Technique in Market Research

Finding out what is important to your customers and what influences their decisions is an essential result when conducting online market research. To accomplish this, your organization must be able to dig deeper into participant responses during focus groups to uncover the functional and emotional motivators for your customers. By using the laddering technique in your market research strategy, you will gain a better understanding of your customers, clients, or employees, which can be put to use in your daily operation. Armed with this information, your organization will be able to build new product concepts, create more effective marketing materials, and appeal to your audience more effectively.

What Is the Purpose of Laddering?

The purpose of laddering is to uncover the basic emotions that feed into a customer’s decision to purchase a certain product. The technique gets its name due to the nature of the questions asked by the researcher. By continuing to dig deeper in responses to your questions about your brand or a particular product, you are able to discover the “whys” that are present in every transaction.

Laddering, when looked at metaphorically, connects a person’s beliefs and values with their decision to buy your product. Each question you ask is a rung on the ladder that brings you one step closer to gaining this insight.

How Does Laddering Work?

Laddering is usually completed as a four-step process while you are conducting a focus group with individuals. You can deploy the technique by asking participants in online market research to elaborate on their responses to initial questions. The step-by-step questioning line allows you to find out the following information about your customers:

  1. Features of products they find important
  2. Functional benefits received from the feature
  3. Higher order benefits that are deeper than serving a functional purpose
  4. Emotional needs met by each of the benefits received

To find out these things you will need to start out with a generic question about your brand or product, and ask follow-up questions that are more direct and personal. For example, finding out why someone purchased a new pair of shoes from your company could include this dialogue:

  • “What do you like best about the shoes?”
    • “They are very comfortable.” (Feature)
  • “What makes comfort important?”
    • “I need to be able to run long distances at a time.” (Functional benefit)
  • “How does comfort achieve this for you?”
    • “I can run longer without getting injured or feeling fatigued.” (Higher benefit)
  • “What does running without pain or fatigue do for you?”
    • “I can get faster and feel accomplished by improving my marathon time.” (Emotional benefit)

From this conversation, you’ve identified that a customer wants to improve her time, and that determination led her to purchase your company’s shoes to help achieve that goal.

What Value Can Be Gained from Laddering?

Market researchers turn to laddering as a technique because they are able to gain the qualitative information that can be used to enhance product offerings, advertisements, and overall business strategy. Once you are able to connect a physical action with its underlying motivation, you have all of the tools needed to create compelling advertising copy that resonates with your audience.

The qualitative data you collect through laddering helps build your relationship with customers because you will understand their values and see ways that you can fulfill their needs. To use laddering effectively it is important to work with experts in online focus groups that will assist you with conducting your research and making the most out of the data it produces. To learn more about how focus groups can bolster your market research strategy, contact a representative of e-Focus Groups at (707) 585-7363.

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