- Why should focus groups be conducted?
- What are the benefits of focus groups?
- How is the discussion guide developed?
- What kind of materials should be tested?
- How is the reporting done?
- How many people should be in a focus group?
- How involved is the client?
- Can the client be in the room?
- How long do focus groups last?
- How long does a focus group project take?
Focus groups offer organizations an opportunity to discover candid thoughts, motivations and reactions of their customers. Focus groups, more than any other method, allow for the emergence and pursuit of surprise information. Focus groups offer flexibility. A guide can be modified from group to group, and even within groups. The moderator can build upon the ideas and insights of previous groups, getting to a greater depth of understanding.
Focus groups uniquely expose and accentuate both the similarities and the differences between distinct types of people. By seeing how these different types of people interact, clients get a completeness of information that can be achieved in no other way. Focus groups spark more new ideas and identify more unexpected information than any other method of marketing research.
When a group of people with something in common, but no previous relation to each, come together in a focus group setting great information unfolds. Participants often:
- react to each others' comments
- draw each other out
- ask each other questions you didn't think to ask
- build on each others' ideas
- spark new ideas
- jog each others' memories
- modify each others' comments
- fill in gaps in knowledge
- nudge each other out of ruts and habitual thinking
- take opposing positions
- persuade each other
- change their opinions
As a result, clients get more information from the group than they could possibly get from any amount of questioning of individuals.
The focus group discussion guide is developed with the client to ensure that desired questions and outcomes are reached. An initial meeting occurs between moderator and client where in-depth questioning and probing occur. The moderator drafts the guide and throughout a series of revisions, the final guide will probe and uncover the results to the questions in consideration.
Focus group guides typically begin with general questions and move to more complex issues. The questions are mostly open-ended, with a series of further questions, or probes, to uncover deeper meanings and motivations.
There is always a section at the end of the guide to allow for the moderator to check back in with the client to ask any further questions.
Any creative materials (written, visual, audio, websites) can be tested in the focus group setting. We can uncover which messages work and which ones come up short in meeting expectations. Our moderator can also incorporate written exercises for your participants, in order to provide more a quantitative base for any opinions they may share.
Our experienced moderator will probe every product or service offering, every customer experience, and every message that can make your services more attractive to prospective and existing customers. We will uncover reasons and motivations underlying participants’ comments.
The format of the final report differs dramatically based on the needs of the client. Some people prefer a simple written topline, others an oral debriefing, and some a formal written document that can range from 20-60 pages. A topline report is an executive summary, with key themes summarized and analyzed. It is usually between 7-10 pages. Both topline and full reports contain observations and recommendations based upon the research conducted. The final full report is written to summarize the findings of the project, providing verbatim quotations and key insights. We carefully consider the result of the focus groups and the report reflects analysis as developed throughout the project.
Focus groups range in size from six to twelve people. An ideal focus group size is eight people. This allows for enough diverse opinions in the group, but also means that everyone has a chance to talk in depth.
As much or as little as you want to be. The key is open communication and agreement on desired outcome of the focus groups and the discussion guide. Many clients attend all the focus groups, observing from the behind the one-way mirror. Others connect via live online video feeds. Some choose to wait for the debrief and do not attend.
Not in the focus group room. But observing from behind the glass, absolutely. If the client is in the room with participants, it often biases the research. It is also too tempting to answer questions instead of just listening.
Regular focus groups will last approximately 90 minutes to two hours without any major breaks. We recruit enough participants to account for a few possible last-minute cancellations or no-shows.
From start to finish, between one and two months depending on the complexity of the recruit, number of groups and locations. Allowing enough time to ensure a solid recruit is key, which usually takes two weeks.