Focus groups: Taking the Guessing out of the Game

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It’s a commonly-held belief that making assumptions is bad. Yet we do it all the time.

In her article, “The Problem with Making Assumptions,” Dr. Marcia Sirota says it’s easy to think we know what is going on in someone else’s head. Though we don’t really know, we make a guess based on our imagination, past experiences, or wishful thinking.

As creative people, our tendency toward assumption can hamstring a well-intended messaging campaign. Because our lively imaginations are often called upon to create scenarios to inspire behavior change, we can be tempted to skip the important step of checking our instincts against the reactions of real live humans.

Evolution had the chance to do some fact checking on Latinx perceptions of home ownership and the homebuying process for the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) and is now putting those findings to work.

In late 2017, Evolution conducted five focus groups across the Front Range. Groups were conducted in English and Spanish with a total of 65 Latinx men and women, aged 18-49, from 15 areas around the state. The participants eagerly shared their thoughts and experiences about renting and home ownership, providing essential data for CHFA.

Among the findings:

  • The top three hopes for home ownership were: safety/security, good neighbors, and the ability to make changes to the property.
  • The top three fears about home ownership were: hidden maintenance issues, lack of credit or credit issues, and fear of the process due to a lack of information.

Another important observation was the high level of engagement among participants when sharing experiences peer-to-peer. Based on this, Evolution recommended CHFA produce a series of short informational videos showing a young professional Latina learning from family members and real estate professionals as she makes the journey to home ownership.

The series is in production now, in collaboration with producer Carlos Mireles of Blu Bambu Design.

Of course, any marketing team who listened to CHFA’s staff outline their desired outcome could have come up with a handful of taglines and tactics on the spot, but without feedback from the target audience, the message could have easily missed the mark. The reason CHFA came to Evolution is they trusted us to take the time (and put in the work) to provide them with the most useful information possible.

Sure, it required more driving and time (and more tamales) to do it this way, but the personal feedback we gained will ensure the message is on target, rather than making a best guess at what would resonate and crossing our fingers.