A focus group is a research technique to collect feedback from a small group of people. It is done in a group discussion where group members respond to questions given by the researcher/group moderator. It allows for the collection of qualitative data.

A survey for example is designed to get large number of responses to often closed ended questions where respondents pick from set answers. This gives numbers that can be charted and analyzed to get a representation of a larger group. Focus groups on the other hand delve deeper to expand on issues.

When used for market research it allows for collecting people’s view, understanding, attitudes and behaviors of the chosen topic.

The group members, up to ten people, are a selected group of people who have experience of the topic. The researcher has chosen these individuals as they have met the target requirements of the type of members to be recruited. The group must be diverse enough. The members should also be people who would likely buy the product or service.

The researcher must be careful selection of group members. The group members must meet the target market however must also consider does the topic offend or is sensitive? Will comments made by group members offend? The researcher must consider the culture and background of the individuals including age, gender, and religion.

The discussion is focused. Everyone has opportunity to provide his or her personal experience and view. The group moderator assists group to encourage discussion, drill down explore ideas, and discover attitudes. Questions are designed to be to bring out the opinions of the group members. Guidelines are given before the session starts so the group members know the expectations. The moderator has a plan to guide the conversation to ensure all aspects of the topic are explored.

The result, data is deep and rich. Words full of personal experiences and emotions.

Benefits

Focus groups can be useful for

  • testing new product ideas
  • simplification of a process
  • considering entering a new market
  • new product or service
  • considering a marketing approach
  • walking through a process

What can be discovered

  • new ideas emerge
  • find the real customer need
  • how products are used, even though they may not have been original intent
  • discover whole new market areas
  • find the most effective way
  • discover why customers behave a certain way
  • discover more information about your target market
  • design ideas