Is it a checklist of "Should we include this?" and "Would you like to see more of that?"? Is there ever an opportunity to say, "Is there really too much of something here?"? Do they ever try to get into the more metaphysical end of things, with ideas about how a car should feel? You set up a question a certain way and you can direct responses towards a certain result, even if it's a superficially neutral question.
Not to sell the preferences and viewpoints of the attendees short, though. It'd be great to get a read on the state of modern consumer consideration, especially to see if there's still any ripples of liveliness present. Has anyone ever really leaned forward during the discussion and said, "Y'know, what I really want is a brand-new version of my Integra GS-R/'90 325is/Cherokee Sport/240SX with as few changes as possible"? I hope so, although I worry that such an idealistic voice would be drowned out by those clamoring for self-driving maxi-crossovers with child-amusement/detention centers in the back.
If I could be on the org side and set up a consumer focus group (I'm sure there's some official statspeak name for these attendees, but if I've ever heard it I blocked it out) I'd like to try to do one with one specific group trait: people who had at some point owned Honda Civics made between about 1986 and 1995.
"Nice" in this case can probably be best interpreted as being very close to "enjoyable to drive." No one ever said that their 1980s Oldsmobile inherited from a great-aunt was "nice," regardless of how cushy or feature-filled it was. Important thing: Those Civics were not bought because Honda was busy dominating Formula 1 or because they had charmed every grumpy auto writer on the planet into a state of giddy partisanship. They were just great small cars that were deceptively simple (not many parts, each profoundly well-engineered) and had a significant degree of fun - direct controls, nimble responses, eager motors - built in without much ado. Most people bought a Civic from that era because it was reliable and practical and sensible, but there was always another side to it: it always acted like a mostly dutiful Buddhist monk novitiate who constantly wanted to go outside and play soccer.
Maybe they should have pressed the fun factor a bit more; maybe more people would have realized what it was about and kept asking for it when someone needed to know later on. Especially if that someone was Honda itself.