Using Meditative Focus Groups to Improve Products and Communication

Posted On: 11/26/13

By: Hana Klouckova   

A new qualitative methodology “Alive Dream” helps people get back to key moments connected to the product or category while in a meditative state of mind, or deep relaxation. This enables them to “live through” the key emotions connected to the brand or category and helps create a map of  “emotional imprints” which can identify the brand’s emotional territory.

The Alive Dream technique uses elements of deep relaxation based on Milton H. Erickson’s hypnotherapy and was originally developed by Danone France. It has been rolled out across Europe over the past two years.

How it works

During the meditative state, a virtual “mentor“ helps respondents further develop the experience with brand or category, which serves as a source of inputs for further product/brand development.

For brand teams, the results of the research serve as a clear guide for which emotions to use to build the communication, as well as a strong source of ideas for new product development. Additionally, the research often uncovers incredibly strong insights, as people tend to be much more open in the meditative state of mind and even share their inner feelings and thoughts.


The Alive Dream methodology is suitable for new product development, as well as communication testing, such as the recent testing of new coffee ad proposals from Sara Lee.

In this test, respondents in deep relaxation described their favorite coffee and later confronted this idea with several storyboards suggesting how to improve it both in terms of product demonstration as well as in terms of the story relevancy.

From the client’s perspective, the biggest benefit is that consumers spontaneously participated in the ad adjustments and came up with a number of specific ideas for execution, such as how to increase its relevance and motivation to purchase the advertised coffee.


The main advantage is that real experience is taken right from “deep inside” in the state of deep relaxation so the respondents are able to work with the experience of the taste, fragrance, or design of the product with more prototypes or ads.

Other advantages of the methodology:

  • Consistency of opinion during the evaluation of large number of stimuli (the idea originates during deep relaxation and remains engraved as a “benchmark” in the minds of the respondents during the evaluation of all stimuli)
  • Negligible influence of other respondents (because of the strong experience of deep relaxation, respondents hold their own view of the studied stimuli very well)
  • Ability to actively participate in co-creation and editing of the product or refining the storyboards