Lord of the Rings Study
Early in the production of the first Lord of the Rings movie, Quality Focus was hired by New Line Pictures to help shape the strategies that would set the tone for the entire trilogy. Hard as it is to believe now, at the time moviegoers only had the vaguest notion of what the Lord of the Rings trilogy was other than the feeling that it had large nerd appeal.
True to our method, Quality Focus designed a set of focus groups to uncover hidden appeal to mainstream moviegoers. The pivotal part of this design, however, included speaking to at least one group of dedicated Tolkien fans in their native environment -- a sci-fi bookstore in Northern California. In our view, it was just as critical to gain ideas from such genre experts as it was to speak with the mainstream audience.
Our method hit pay dirt. Listening closely to the group dynamic it became clear that Tolkien fans had knowledge of certain themes, symbols, and phrases that had left a collective, indelible mark. In this case it was a phrase that led to the cornerstone of the marketing campaign, “And One Ring to Rule Them All.”
Little Miss Sunshine Study
Hoping to get picked up by a major independent studio, Big Beach Films hired Quality Focus as they were finishing Little Miss Sunshine for its Sundance debut.
We jumped in with a proprietary focus group design that we created for specialty movies. Highly innovative, streamlined, and economical, this design produces the kind of marketing and production insight that even some big studio films can’t achieve. Most major studio films utilize a quantitative survey with a large theater audience to test movies and only a short, single homogenous focus group after the movie.
Our design utilizes several focus groups, each with a distinct composition allowing ample time for optimum group dynamics to come into play and deeper thoughts and feelings about the movie to emerge.
What our study revealed: Enormous crossover potential. The universally relatable theme of the imperfect family striving towards a distorted ideal. And the family’s VW van as a supporting character in its own right. The van subsequently went on to star in the marketing campaign. Finally, we were able to confirm that the movie’s edgy finale was not at all objectionable but, in fact, was a highlight of the film.
Levi Strauss & Co. came to Quality Focus to create a series of focus group studies examining a broad range of product and marketing situations. One especially revealing study centered on examining the retail environment to improve sales of a line of men’s jeans. Working with the company’s market research department, we recruited respondents much like we did for movies, by enlisting men who were shopping at department stores.
With the idea that men would be more relaxed and forthcoming in an intimate discussion setting, we recruited mini-groups instead of full-sized focus groups. The results were even better than expected. By asking men to talk about their experience walking through the store that day to get to the jeans department, which often included walking through a screen of perfume sirens, we developed a Psychology of the Department Store from the perspective of the male jeans buyer. Pivotal factors surfaced that ultimately helped Levi's sell men's jeans by tailoring the shopping experience to make men feel comfortable in every way.
Mitsubishi Automotive/Grey Advertising Study
Grey Advertising charged Quality Focus with conducting a comprehensive automotive study for Mitsubishi Automotive, which was planning a major launch of its redesigned sports car.
During group sessions in San Diego, Seattle, and Dallas, we didn’t just discuss the car, we delved into the world of the target audience, the generational attitudes, and the particularly savvy way this age group viewed media and advertising.
After inviting the focus groups to kick the tires of the new model, we uncovered a desire for a vehicle with an edgier, hipper persona over the more traditional luxury sports car image. The groups' discussion of the new sports car as an alternative car that they could see parked outside of underground clubs became the literal script for a successful television campaign.