Groupthink often occurs when there is a time constraint and individuals put aside personal doubts so a project can move forward or when one member of the group dominates the decision-making process.
Focus groups are ideal when you want to gain multiple perspectives in an interactive group setting. But, one of the things that can happen in focus groups is “groupthink.” The first person starts off on a tangent and then the entire room goes along with that first opinion.
When you are running groups, be mindful of the potential of groupthink:
If the group is all agreeing to all things sustainable, a bit too quickly and easily, throw in a few ‘opposite’ ideas, otherwise known as devils’ advocates.
Challenge the group leader
Subtly undermine the alpha character in the group in order to give others more chance of having their say.
Ask group members how the environmentally related groupthink opinions will impact on them personally and directly to help them take a more individual approach to the subject matter.
Focus groups are a quick and easy way for brands and retailers to get sustainability related opinions from shoppers and consumers. But because of biases such as groupthink, don’t overvalue the opinions of too small a sample of people or groups.