qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging." Generally, companies use focus group to gather above information from various consumers about their new, upcoming or existing products and services. I am not new to focus group as I participated in a focus group for Honda Element couple years back. I even experienced it from behind the glass as a 'company' and have worked with market research firm before. So, it was exciting to be part of one again, especially as an owner of new MINI Countryman, about to meet with fellow Countryman owners!
The format of focus group was free discussion type, where moderator asks question and participants freely answer as they wish. Simple and Easy. It started with each of us introducing ourselves to the group.
Without boring you more with all the small details, here are some interesting facts about us 8 owners.
_Out of 8 of us, only 1 owned MINI before. 7 were new to the brand.
_Many out of those 7 wanted MINI before, but vehicle size was a missing link
_Getting into MINI brand was important in general
_Unsurprisingly, 4 doors and bigger size sold them to the Countryman
_Only 1 had a manual transmission. Rest were Auto.
_4 Cooper model, 3 Cooper S, 1 Cooper S All4
_Previous cars include Ford Mustang, Lexus RX400h (still owns it for wife), Jeep Wangler, 94 Honda Accord (still owns it for a daughter), BMW 328i (lease ended), MINI Cooper, VW GTI (Me.. still owns it), VW Jettas Wagon.
_Out of 8 of us, only 1 (Me) custom ordered Countryman from factory. The rest simply picked one up from the dealer inventory
_Time was an issue for some, as they either needed a car right away or simply did not wish to wait
_Two considered Clubman, but Countryman won over
_Some thought there was no place for Clubman. (Some didn't even know what MINI Clubman was) I strongly opposed as I think there definitely is a market for Clubman.
_In general, the Countryman was described as sporty, functional, unique, funky, MINI, stylish, fun, aggressive, etc while one female thought it was 'Sexy'
_Both exterior and interior styling received big score
_Some disliked features are overhead sun visor (too small and short of covering the sun glare), center rail (not too functional and included phone holder is a joke), tailgate too heavy for some (especially female owners) disappointing mileage.
_Some wanted rear bench seat, but after living with the rear bucket seats, they are happy with bucket seat
_Most didn't know that it was made in Austria.
_For future ad campaign, some think emphasis on the family friendly aspects of Countryman rather than just young, hip crowd would be good. Countryman can do a family vehicle duty well.
_Most use Countryman as a daily driver. Some also use it as a functional utility for their hobby.
_One female who've owned Mustang before, thinks her Cooper with non-turbo engine is underpowered. (But I will beg to differ as she owned a V6 Mustang (not the newer 300hp+ V6, the old no-go Mustang V6) - While Cooper's 1.6liter engine is not powerful, it is more than adequate.
_Countryman's participation in WRC was not important. Heck, all but me had no idea what WRC is and MINI was racing in one.
_In general, all are very happy with Countryman so far.
At the end of Focus Group session, we were all given a check for $200 for less than 90 minutes of our time. Not bad!