Market research using focus groups is a $7 billion annual industry (according to Esomar) that hasn’t changed much in 50 years. Cue GutCheck, a Denver-based startup that offers the benefits of an average $4000-$10,000 focus group without the cost and hassle.
“Looking at the opportunities for DIY qualitative research, automating the recruitment process and reducing the cost and effort of in-depth interviews was the key to success,” GutCheck CEO Matt Warta told brandchannel. “We’ve lowered the economic barrier to this kind of research.”
Drawing on a panel of five million online participants, a widget-enabled filter sets age range, gender, income, geography, marital status, employment, education, and ethnicity. It takes just seconds to interview consumers for their insights on branding moves — marketing, packaging, strategy, campaigns, you name it — all for $40 a pop, rather than the standard focus group cost of $500 per person.
"On average we get people in about four minutes," Warta told Fast Company. “By reducing price and hassle, we think we can bring new participants to the market." Think SurveyMonkey but for qualitative research.
In addition to the online chats available now, video is the next natural step, says Warta, "as all PC’s shipping today have the bandwidth, and technology is catching up."
GutCheck just won the People’s Choice award (and $1 million in free advertising) at the DEMO Spring 2011 conference out of a field of 53 start-up presenters. Backed by Highway 12 Ventures, Village Ventures, iModerate Research Technologies, and Benenson Strategy Group, GutCheck has raised $2 million to date.
Several big brands, who GutCheck can't identify, have kicked the tires on virtual focus groups with GutCheck including “an oral care innovation project with a leading CPG company.”
Could this be the faster horse that marketers (and Henry Ford) envisioned?