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One Reason to Like Focus Groups

I’m not a big fan of focus groups (when it comes to businesses figuring out what customers want) for a number of reasons.

First, they are unnatural settings with a very high degree of scrutiny, which may distort how people respond. Second, it seems likely that people will tend to say what they think others expect them to say, or what the people organizing the focus group might want them to say. Third, I suspect that one or two vocal participants can sway the responses of the others who are present. Fourth, in general I am more interested in what people do than what they say.

It is hard not to like this focus group, run by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, unless of course you were one of the attendees. Advertised as a holiday-shopper focus group, it was really a trick to catch fugitives.

More than 60 eager criminals showed up. The fact that they were being promised $500 to take part in the activity should have been a dead giveaway. When people like my mom are willing to participate for $50, there is no need to pay $500.

The most surprising thing of all is that of the 60-plus fugitives who showed up, only one was carrying marijuana.