Yahoo’s Frustration with Focus Groups

Christine Perfetti

December 20th, 2005

In a recent article from Business Week, Shoot the Focus Group, Yahoo’s chief marketing officer discusses how focus groups rarely yield valuable information about Yahoo’s user needs.

Yahoo’s frustration with focus groups isn’t that surprising. At UIE, we hardly ever use focus groups because they just don’t work very well at uncovering user needs. The biggest problem: what users say in a focus group rarely matches what they do in a real-life setting. Users’ opinions about a site or product are very rarely consistent with how they behave when they actually interact with it.

We still find that usability testing is the best way to gather input from users. Nothing replaces the power of observing users interact with a site.

2 Responses to “Yahoo’s Frustration with Focus Groups”

  1. Daniel Szuc Says:

    Good read.

    Suggest that this may be one reason Contextual Inquiries and site visits are becoming more popular activities; as companies seek to find ways to innovate products or re-direct product direction based on real observations. Not just memory or recall.

  2. New media: what’s new, thinking it through » Focus groups/user surveys Says:

    [...] 7 Jan 2006 Focus groups/user surveys Posted by csmnewmedia under Uncategorized  Yahoo’s frustration with focus groups -Jared Spools take. I shared this concern in our suvey-planning meeting yesterday, but just to reiterate the point -  what users say in a focus group (and what they say in a survey) does not necessarily match what they do in a real-life setting. I think surveys ARE still valid feedback, but only one piece of the puzzle. (And after talking more with Kathy today, I feel better about it.) http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2005/12/20/yahoos-frustration-with-focus-groups/   [...]

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