THE HISTORY OF FOCUS GROUPS
The focus group concept is about 50 years old, and like many modern innovations, its roots date back to World War II. A group of sociologists were asked to investigate how the military’s propaganda films were being received by their audiences. They learned that, with proper prodding, people can identify the exact reason certain scenes, lines, or phrases make them think or act in a certain way. The consumer culture was next to use focus group technology, turning to academically trained market researchers to determine everything from packaging and pricing to advertising and marketing. Today, roughly 70% of all consumer research dollars are earmarked for qualitative research, and it is nearly impossible to find a Fortune 500 company that does not use focus groups to develop its corporate image and/or marketing strategy.