The following blog post was written by Sara Cruz, Research Associate at RMS.

Have you seen this Domino’s commercial?

Or this one from Febreze?

Or this commercial from Chevy’s “Real people, not actors” campaign?

Or this funny commercial advertising Snickers’ Peanut Butter Squared?

Did you know you were watching a focus group in those commercials? These national advertisements mimicking focus group formats & real-time interactions have grown in popularity over the past few years, with many other large corporations, such as Burger King and AT&T, following suit. Even the more recent Chevy commercials are using footage from focus groups.

Do you recognize any of these commercials?

Simply stated, a focus group is a market research tool where people are selected to participate in a guided discussion with the goal of discovering thoughts, preferences and opinions about a product, service, brand, image, television show, or political campaign. But don’t worry – we won’t throw your cell phone into a wood chipper or do anything else potentially hazardous. That is not what focus groups are all about. Although these commercials are interesting and entertaining, they fail to demonstrate the full scope of a professional focus group.

As you can see, focus groups can be used for a multitude of reasons, but most of the time the results remain private to the client and research firm and do not appear in a commercial on television. Our research team and American viewing audiences agree: commercials simulating focus group footage are not only amusing to watch, but also command a more authentic human response versus an otherwise outdated promotion strategy. And one of the most impressive and lucrative emotional marketing campaigns that blossomed out of the focus group ad format came from failing pizza firm Domino’s.

Domino’s was not always a successful company. The organization was struggling 10 years ago, and yet today it’s worth billions. When Domino’s was struggling, it conducted several focus groups to gain insight from their valued customers. Instead of hiding what people were saying and keeping the comments private, Domino’s courageously shared the feedback publicly. They even took it one step further and shared how they used the feedback to make a better pizza, including the crust, sauce and cheese. In fact, Domino’s designed an entire marketing campaign sharing the focus group footage and how they changed as a company, followed by visiting the focus group participants with their new and improved version of Domino’s pizza.

The video below shares more about the process that Domino’s went through to turn everything around as a company. It is evident in the video that it was not easy for the employees to hear the constructive criticism, but past Domino’s President Patrick Doyle stated “you can either use negative comments to get you down or use them to excite you and energize your process of making a better pizza. We did the latter.”

Check out the video below if you want to learn more about the Domino’s story. If you missed the first Domino’s video in the beginning of this blog, watch it here.

These commercials are useful to share for a few reasons:

  1. To educate you on the broad range of industries that utilize focus groups in market research projects.
  2. To demonstrate the value of discovering customer insights in real-time.
  3. To share with you the story of Domino’s and how focus groups made a drastic positive impact on the future of the company.
  4. To brighten your day by watching some fun commercials.
  5. To encourage you to reach out to us at Research & Marketing Strategies to inquire about how focus groups can help you to reach your business goals.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, New York. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Vice President of Corporate Development at or by calling 866.567.5422.