Monday, November 13, 2006

Focus groups

We were at the outlet mall on Saturday and walked by a store called the Dress Barn. Even if I wasn't a marketing professional, I would think I'd have enough common sense not to call a store "The Dress Barn." Doesn't it just scream at you that you are a cow if you shop there?

Yet people shop there.

I wonder if the store name was the product of a focus group. If you aren't familar with focus groups, they are a non-scientific market research tool where you get about 8 to ten strangers from various demographic groups to sit in a room and verbally take a dump on a product name, package design or slogan. They do this while the business owner and his marketing people sit in another room watching through a two-way mirror. The focus group is led by a facilitator who tries to keep the room full of people focused on bashing the crap out of the thing being tested. They do this by offering the focus group members cookies and M&Ms at crucial moments.

Focus groups usually start out with no one talking. Then the facilitator godes one of the focus group members to take a shot at the product name or packaging. The facilitator then shoves a plate of cookies at the focus group member who started the criticism fest going. The rest of the focus group members then jump in and begin clubbing the product name or packaging design like a bunch of Canadians hot on the trail of a baby seal.

If you are the marketing person who came up with the product name, package design or slogan, a focus group is a painful and degrading process. If you are the business owner, it is an opportunity to go with your gut feeling and toss out the ad agency or marketing person's ideas and go with the name for your store or product your Aunt Bertha suggested at the dinner table on Sunday.

I'm pretty sure this is how the Dress Barn got its name.

8 comments:

Lights in the wake said...

Oh, I don't know, it doesn't seem like such a bad name to me. I mean, horses stay in barns too. And chicks dig horses. So there you go: horses = nice clothes.

Of course I might change my mind if someone offered me a cookie.

Tim ID said...

Lights,
I'm proud to know you. You are a man of integrity that is not ashamed to know his price.

Anonymous said...

I have seen a few cows wearing dresses..........does that count?

The Michael said...

Perhaps they could rename McDonald's or Burger King the "Packed Pounds Emporium". Or maybe the "Trans-Fat-tory"

Home Depot; "Get it your own damn selfateria"

Walmart "The Shallow end of Shopping"

K-Mart; "K-Who?"

Microsoft; "You've put up with us this far, don't stop now!"

I'm in the wrong profession..........

Miss Bliss said...

We have Dress Barns here in New England. Just the mention of the name (or walking past it in the mall) makes me want to bake an apple pie and take it to the nearest hayride. I detest my thought process being controlled for a marketing blunder.

Tim ID said...

Whitesnake,
I don't know. I depends upon the length of the skirt. Nothing tackier than a cow wearing the wrong length skirt.

THE Michael, I think you have an untapped talent. Perhaps a focus group is in order.

Miss Bliss, I'm pleased to hear that the Dress Barn is a universal blight on the country and not confined to the pacific nortwest.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how that particular store is surviving. I would NEVER shop in a barn. You can do things like that with men. Take the "Big & Tall" store. You just couldn't get away with that in a women's store. Again, I have no idea why women are still shopping at the "Dress Barn".

Tim ID said...

Shandi,
I suppose the Dress Barn wouldn't have done as well if it was called House of Heffer's. Personally I wouldn't shop at a Big and Tall shop either. Now Fat Ass Fred's is a whole different story. :)