Costs and other tradeoffs
Recruiting is one of the most important and difficult steps in conducting a focus group. It is challenging and time consuming to contact and attract the right people. Careful screening questions can improve the odds that a person who is invited is truly “qualified” and is not a “professional”.
Adequate compensation (cash always works best) is a strong inducement to ensure attendance and cooperation but it adds to the expense of the research. Hiring and meeting with a trained facilitator/moderator will impact time and budget. However, the experience of such a person who is trained to listen, digest, and provide an objective analysis of findings is a justified expense. In addition, the moderator will usually handle recruiting and renting a facility as well as overseeing video and audio recording of the sessions.
One must factor in travel, lodging, meals and related costs for internal staff plus the moderator. As such, focus groups should only be the method of choice when no other means exist to satisfy research objectives.
Unless you have observed a focus group from the back room, you will never know how it feels to be so close to your customer!