Creativity groups are best suited to projects where there is a strong emphasis on blue sky thinking. The format is similar to conventional focus groups, with the following key differences:
- More extensive use of projective exercises, especially perceptual mapping, collages and scenario testing.
- Recruitment process targets participants who can think 'outside the square'.
- More time spent on small-group exercises
- Longer sessions (typically 2 1/2 to 3 hours compared with 1 1/2 hours for conventional groups)
The emphasis in these sessions is on coming up with ideas and understanding the language people really use to describe situations. Clients often use them when they are at the initial scoping stages of a new project or campaign.
- A company which wanted to position itself more as a 'New Zealand company', for example, used creativity groups to identify New Zealand symbols, imagery and language that moved beyond kitsch kiwiana.
- A government agency which was concerned that the public did not understand what they really did used creativity groups to work out the best ways to convey this.
In creativity groups we often give respondents a problem to consider (e.g. how would you promote a company's New Zealand identity, without relying on conventional images of kiwiana?) and let them work in groups to come up with solutions and strategies. Although these solutions and strategies are seldom workable as they are, their value is in coming up with novel ideas which can form the basis of innovative campaigns.
Creativity groups often work well in concert with conventional focus groups - ideas are generated in the creativity groups, and then tested amongst a wider audience through conventional focus groups.