Beyond Focus Groups: The Marketers Among Us

Forget about focus groups. Before launching their new weekly glossy magazine for women, "Look," executives at Britain's IPC Media (a Time Warner company) engaged in "immersion research," or ethnography. "We went out to our audience," explained IPC's Chris Taylor. "We literally lived for weeks at a time with [potential] readers in their homes. We went to the shop and the pub with them, we developed relationships with them." The Independent's Jane Thynne reports, "It may be Orwellian, but going eyeball to eyeball with the consumer is taking off as companies become wary of focus groups. ... Up close and personal, people can be seen making those decisions which seem trivial yet are so crucial to the marketer." IPC's Evelyn Webster says of their target market, women ages 18 to 30: "What interests this group is not really men but celebrities and shopping."