Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Focus Group vs. Facebook

According to Nielsen NetView, users are spending more and more time on Facebook. The study suggests that the average US user spends more than 4.5 hours a month on Facebook, beating competitors like AOL, Google, Yahoo and Micrsoft hollow. This obviously explains why everything from the Lexus Convertible to a no-calorie Sweetener is nowadays advertised on the said site.

But Splenda Mist has gone one step further by doing away with focus groups altogether. Yes, the dreaded panel of freebie-lured opinionators is slowly on its way out. Because Facebook offers various advantages.

1. Basic information about the target group is already available.

2. According to Adage, "Facebook offered us the opportunity not only to advertise with a brand message and a product message but also the opportunity to solicit feedback and to have our target raise their hand and say, 'I want to sample this product,'" said Ivy Brown, group product director-Splenda. Which probably explains why Splenda gave away more than 16,000 samples in two weeks when it had hoped to distribute 10,000 samples in 12 weeks.

3. Feedback is interactive and sometimes, in real-time.

4. Reach is easily extended to the friends of the target who signs up for a sample or becomes a fan of the product. The fact that he or she has sampled or joined a fan-base immediately shows up on the news-feed of their Facebook homepage.

But what is in it for Facebook in terms of revenue? Makes sense only if it does this for lots and lots of brands. One niche player like Splenda Mist is not going to bring in the moolah.

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