Friday, August 21, 2009

Fashion Focus Group Fail.

One of my favorite ways to make money is doing focus groups. I freely and happily dispense my opinions on all matters of things, and getting $150 for the privilege is icing on the proverbial cake.

When the focus group people call, I'm usually pretty adept at answering their questions in ways that get me included - basically say yes to anything they ask. Do you eat out at fast food restaurants? Yes. Do you have a Mac or PC? Both. Are you in the market for a new laptop? Yes. Do you have Herpes? Ye- I mean, no. Sorry.

So when the fashion focus group came knocking (Do you like to shop?) I did my usual agreeable technique and made it in. :)

I was concerned though. I'm not a fashionistaand in fact I can't remember the last item of regular clothing I bought. I shop at Target. Mr. Insom's taken to hanging random items in my closet for me because I can't be bothered to go shopping. Currently I'm wearing a shirt that my grandmother bought me when I was a junior in college, a skirt I bought the year I graduated, and sandals that Mr. Insom bought. I just don't get a eff. lol

Just the person you want for a fashion focus group.

So I get to the focus group place. Oh wait. Let me back up.

We were instructed to "Wear an outfit to the group that you like and consider stylish, which must include at least one recent trend or stylish purchase." We also had to fill out a homework assignment about a "great fashion find."

A selection of the questions:
  • Where did you buy this item?
  • How did it make you feel to buy this item?
  • Why did you choose it?
There were 16 questions, people. Lord.

We had to bring said item to the focus group. My item was a cotton shirt with Mandarin details and an unusual batik print that I found in Chinatown. I wear it all the time.

Okay. So I fill out the forms, bring my item, wear a "stylish" outfit and walk into the waiting room, fully expecting to be in a room of people that looked like this.


I'm starting to feel a little more relaxed. That feeling subsides quickly however when we go into the focus group room.

We're told that we're being videotaped. Okay. We're told that there are people watching us from behind the one-way mirror. Er. The focus group moderator pulls out a camera and snaps a picture of my face. Hmm.

Then one at a time, we're instructed to stand up and do a twirl while the moderator snaps pictures. We have to say where each item was purchased and the design label. What about your shoes, she says. What about your necklace? What about your bag? Pictures occur at every moment. Not expecting this and it has a nightmarish quality. Definitely not looking forward to acknowledging the Sketchers that I'm wearing... lol

But I made it through. Most people are wearing items from Banana Republic or Macy's. One woman's wearing Chanel sunglasses and another woman has a Tiffany necklace and a Dooney and Bourke bag. An blond woman in her late forties proudly displays her True Religion skinny jeans. I take an instant dislike to her. Sure enough, she spend most of the time talking about how she never shops at Nordstroms because the one in Glendale is small and dirty and how she Target and Forever 21 clothes are disposal. She takes offense when I say that the Limited and Express skews young. Well of course you would, I think. You're fifty and you're wearing a hot pink ruffled shirt and skinny jeans.

I sit through comments like "I never wear sweats - I hate looking frumpy" without guffawing. I listen to Jenice, a nurse practitioner, describe her cashmere shawls that she wears in the office while thinking about my cozy work blanket - an army green cotton throw that has strange hieroglyphics on it.


Not sure what the story is behind the markings. By my reckoning, my blanket tells the story of a man that is transformed into a porcupine man with horns and goes on to stab a bird and antelope. It's weird.

But anyway - back to the focus group: so far, so good.

We play fun focus group games, like putting the names of stores (Nordstrom, TJ Maxx, Bloomingdales, Macys, Victoria Secret, J Crew, Gap, Banana Republic, Zappos, DSW) into categories.

Then we get asked more details about a few of the stores - I've been inside all of them in the past three months except one. Nordstroms. Turns out that appears to be the focus of the focus group. Oops.

The final activity is to sort various items into "looks like something that would be at Nordstroms" and "definitely not something that would be at Nordstroms". My group of three people starts with 8 black slacks, then we move onto 8 black handbags, then we do 8 patterned shirts and 8 t-shirts.

You try it! Which of the following is a bag at Nordstroms?



Since I have idea of what is at Nordstroms, I just look for examples of "quality" and "classic styling" - just cause that's the impression I have of Nordstroms. I could be wrong, but that's my technique and I'm sticking to it. I'm not sure if my group got the "right answers" as the moderator refused to tell us which items were indeed from Nordstroms. I hate it when that happens. I won't do the same with you - the right answer was bag B. Bag A's at Tar-jay.

Then we were free to go, and I got my check. Yay!


Ann Marie said...

I guessed correctly! Do I get a prize? :)

dapotato said...

i guessed correctly, too. marc jacobs, no?

i love your blanket. please wear it when we finally meet.

{grace} said...

My CW's sister is a designer at Skechers and she designed those shoes, lol.

I got the bag question correct, yeah! I'm pretty sure it's a marc jacobs bag.

Insomniac said...

Okay all you Mrs. Smarty pantses... Yes the bag in question is a MJ bag. I knew I should have made my test harder... Lol. Double fashion fail for me.

weezermonkey said...

Are you sure it's Marc Jacobs and not Marc by Marc Jacobs? It looks like it's from the turnlock series.

I have one. :P

I laughed out loud at your swirled pic of the clearly unfashionable woman.

Insomniac said...

Um... I didn't know that there was a difference, WM. [blushes] But you are, of course, right. I believe I've reached the ultimate triple fashion fail. lol

10yearstogether said...

This was so much fun to read! I'm glad it wasn't as terrible as you thought it would be. I didn't guess correctly about the bag, btw. Lame-o. PS - do you really have those shoes? Hee hee. *snicker*

Insomniac said...

Not only do I have them, I'm wearing them right now. Oh so comfortable! :)

10yearstogether said...

Well I really shouldn't talk since I wear Kirkland sherpa boots with jean mini skirts. :p

amber said...

I'm laughing that D 10yt is poking fun at your shoes when she wears Fuggs.

Sounds like an interesting focus group.