Getting to the Truth

Focus Groups, Ethnography and Sensitivity Checks
Focus Groups

Focus group research is our favorite methodology.  And to be honest, we’re really good at it. We don’t use a lot of projective exercises and we don’t have a bag of magic tricks at the ready.  The reason is simple:  we don’t want to let tools get in the way of what we consider to be most important – the respondents. We ask smart questions and we really listen to the answers.

Our strength lies in our ability to connect with respondents and encourage them to open up and share their thoughts, no matter how straightforward or complex they happen to be.  Our clients tell us that we have a knack for relating authentically to consumers, drawing out deep, meaningful insights and delivering them in sound and informative reports. We’re here for you when you are seeking an expert opinion, a strategy or a simple gut check.

The Insight


Nothing gets to the heart of a research question quite like stepping outside of the focus group facility and into consumers’ homes and lives.  Ethnography makes it possible for you to be with your consumer as they connect with your brand.  You are able to observe the connection as it happens, to ask questions as it is happening and to come out of the experience knowing that you just saw a consumer insight come to life right before your eyes.

Sensitivity Checks

Even the most well-intentioned brands can miss the mark with African American consumers (or worse, incur the wrath of “Black Twitter”) if the advertising strategy, imagery or tone is offensive, off-putting, or simply “off.”

You may have seen this scenario before: a company, in an attempt to expand their reach to Black consumers, uses slang, music or other messaging that it assumes will resonate with this demographic. Once it runs, the campaign is deemed offensive by Black viewers, and the outrage spreads swiftly across social media. Suddenly, the campaign goes viral for all the wrong reasons and an apology is immediately issued — but not before the reputation of the company and the ad agency has been damaged.

At Black Raspberry, we want to help our clients avoid making this type of misstep.

We are constantly on the lookout for the latest trends and are most interested in those we think will have a positive impact on your business. One trend that has emerged in the publishing industry caught our attention. In an attempt to capture the voice and experiences of people in ethnic/cultural groups that are not their own, writers are turning to “sensitivity readers” to help them ensure that their stories and portrayals are authentic, balanced and respectful.

Because we believe this approach can greatly benefit our clients in the advertising and marketing space as well, we now offer a Sensitivity Check as one of our product offerings.

If you’ve developed a concept/campaign but you’re not sure if the tone, verbiage or images are quite right, give us a call. We can assist you in two ways —consultation or creative testing.

With the Sensitivity Check, our goal is to help you create the most effective ads possible.

We can take a look at the work and provide our feedback and/or suggestions.
Creative Testing
We can present the work in focus groups and deliver a topline report with verbatim responses so you can hear what consumers think before you go to final production.