How Focus Groups Can Strengthen a Brand

Our client, Kicks Karate, is a martial arts academy with several locations in Maryland. As the company passed the 20-year mark, the owner looked for a way to rejuvenate his business. He was under the impression that parents were primarily interested in the fun aspect of martial arts for their kids. He wanted to focus on kid-centric branding, which would shift the direction of his company’s marketing.

Before turning the Kicks Karate concept in a different direction, we wanted to make sure that any changes he made would resonate with his current customers. Here are the steps we took to discover if the owner’s assumption was correct.

Step 1: Explored a new business idea for Kicks Karate

Our client was interested in making his martial arts studio more kid-centric by developing a company mascot and incorporating aspects of a little gym. When we explored the idea further, we realized that the clientele of a little gym is constantly changing, limited by the age of the children. Martial arts schools, on the other hand, build long-term relationships with clients – kids start young and sometimes stay with the discipline as adults, and their parents try it and get hooked.

Because Kicks Karate has such a well-established clientele, we didn’t want to jeopardize the customer base by making a wrong move. A gut check told us we needed to prove (or disprove) the owner’s assumption.

We recommended convening focus groups with current clients. This would help everyone better understand what customers actually want from martial arts training and whether that meshed with what Kicks Karate thought they wanted.

Step 2: Conducted focus groups to understand what customers really think

We didn’t want to design a survey that made assumptions. Instead, we designed neutral questions so answers could be aggregated several ways.

Respondents were nearly unanimous in their opinions, which rarely happens; 86% clearly indicated that they wanted a martial arts training academy that instilled confidence and discipline in their children and made kids aspire to be better. The results came as a big surprise to the Kicks Karate owner, who had been ready to change his business model to a play-focused studio for kids.

Step 3: Let research solidify the direction the business will take

The focus group findings helped Kicks Karate move forward in the way that is most advantageous for the business. The new information led to changes in their branding, website, and uniforms, and it continues to feed the marketing strategy that Marstudio is implementing for them.

The Bottom Line: Research is Key to Success

When clients come to us with ideas that can greatly impact the direction of their businesses, we have an obligation to find out what is going to best serve them. What we’ve learned from experience is that research is key to identifying and defining marketing opportunities and problems. This is extremely important if a business already has a devoted customer base – we need to conduct research with those customers before making drastic changes. Not only can research be key to understanding an audience’s needs and desires, but it also can help us identify the opportunities to plot the best direction for your business.

If you would like to rejuvenate your business but don’t know where to start give us a call. We will provide you with an assessment for your current business to help identify the best path for you to achieve your marketing goals.

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