On Wednesday last week I spent the evening talking to some lovely people in Brum about a new concept in energy tariffs. Everyone walked in and helped themselves to tea and coffee and sat down on the golden velour chairs, eyeing each other up to see who they were supposed to have something in common with.
I scanned the room for the right number of respondents - eight on this occasion. Check. Were they about 45-60 years old? Check. Four men? Check. Four women…one…two…three….um….four.
Margery (I have changed her name) was stirring her tea and then looked up at me with rosy cheeks and green eye shadow. ’Oh, there’s a transvestite in my focus group this evening’, I thought. ‘That’s okay’.
When she introduced herself she looked back into her tea, giving everyone the chance to stare and evaluate freely. I could read everyone’s mind as they whirred and clicked in analysis, is he or isn’t she? The good news is that we live in a modern age and I’m glad to say that after 15 minutes of so of moderation and group management Margery was rattling on about her boiler whilst everybody else happily chipped in.
To be honest I think the game was up when her mobile rang to the tune of Kylies ‘can’t get you out of my head’, but she was the perfect respondent and whilst I’m a little greyer I’m also more worldly wise.