FG policies are heavily influenced by focus groups
Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30
Fine Gael's policies in the forthcoming General Election have been heavily influenced by the feedback from polling, market research and focus groups.
A focus group basically involves a market research company asking a specific group of people their opinions on an issue.
By teasing out the perceptions of the chosen group, a party will determine the importance of the issue and whether voters would be persuaded to support the party if they adopted such a policy.
Focus groups are a form of qualitative research commonly used in marketing and advertising to sample a new or altered product before bringing it on to the market.
The age, social class and background of the group is carefully chosen.
The reaction of the group can determine whether a party or government will proceed with a policy - or if it needs to be tweaked.
The groups are often made up of supporters of other parties to see if they would be attracted to vote for the party by a new policy position.
The balance between tax and public spending is of particular interest in policy formulation.
Fine Gael's research, polling and focus groups are directed by Washington-based consultants Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.
Set up by veteran pollster Stan Greenberg, the company has been working for Fine Gael for the past decade and have run campaigns for Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is among their recent successes.
Amárach Research, a well-established market research company in Dublin, conduct the party's focus groups and national polling.
The findings are interpreted by the US firm, who then advise on strategy to target specific voters.