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Our Latest Wave of Focus Groups

Handling message-testing focus groups across the state in 14 languages is a bit like jumping off a ship without a lifejacket. If you’re not careful, you could drown.

But we’re always up for challenges, so we dived in headfirst for the California Census 2020.

Our objectives have been to collect data with the best methods of reaching out to hard to count audiences and to determine messages that would motivate participation. Focus groups produce data not based on numbers but based on words and emotions allowing for the research to probe deep into small groups to uncover enriched insights.

The census is fully aware that there are audiences that are harder to count than others. The mission of these focus groups was to probe what fears or concerns people had with the census and also to see what types of ads and messaging resonated most effectively. The first series of focus groups in Phase One was based primarily on language groups. As you can imagine, California has MANY languages spoken throughout the state, so priorities were established and sessions were scheduled.

Jane and I decided to divide and conquer by traveling up and down the state to be present at each of these focus groups, and in some cases, Jane facilitated. While the schedule was frantic, the information gathered has been rich. Early findings have already influenced messaging for the campaign.

Ultimately, California’s goal is a complete count of every person in the state. Our job with the research is to help the state discern the best messaging and platforms to encourage participation. Phase Two of this research is now launching. As you can imagine, our checklists are thorough and our suitcases never get fully unpacked.

For more information about the California Census visit

KEVIN GORDY, Account Manager