This paper describes a case study which explores the potential of focus groups for assisting the designer in gathering data, in this case on the reaction of typical end-users to small domestic products. The designer worked directly with the groups as moderator, the logic being that in this way an enhanced understanding could be developed of the reactions of users and an improved empathy for the requirements of users from outside the socio-economic group most designers occupy. The paper firstly gives a background to focus groups as a data collection method. The methodology of the case study focus groups is described including the guiding objectives and methods of gathering and analysing data. The data from the focus groups, which is qualitative in nature, is examined. From this a discussion is conducted on the potential value of the focus group in this context and in the training of designers.