- focus group
- A group of citizens employed by image specialists to test out party approaches and ideas, in order to allow party strategists to tailor and package ideas appropriately. Deriving from the United States, moderate discussions take place among a small number of respondents who discuss a particular topic. The intention is to find out the thinking and emotions that underlie popular attitudes. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. In the world of marketing, focus groups are an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products. A question may be direct, such as ‘How do you rate Tony Blair?’, or it may be indirect, such as ‘if Tony Blair were a colour (or perhaps an animal), which one would he be?’ Focus groups were used by Margaret Thatcher in preparation for the 1979 election and featured strongly in the Kinnock-led reorganisation of the Labour Party in the 1980s. In its early years, the Blair administration was much criticised by some purists for its obsession with such groups.Critics see focus-group campaigning as yet another step which takes politics further away from principles and policies and towards the most cynical kind of market manipulation. The emphasis is on presentation and on finding out what people want and giving it to them. But others see focus groups as valuable in assessing the state of popular feeling about parties, ascertaining popular reactions to policies and personalities.
Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.