A Focus Group is a qualitative marketing research technique that tests products, services, ideas, packaging, pricing, advertisement and concepts.
It is an informal group interview typically between 5 to 12 people, guided by a facilitator where people are asked to express their opinions, attitudes, beliefs, satisfaction and perceptions about the proposed item.
Respondents, or participants included in the focus group sessions are typically part of what’s called a “target segment,” as companies tailor their products to different segments of the population to better meet their needs. A facilitator, or “moderator”, helps guide the session and focus the discussion. The sessions are observed closely and recorded for further observation of participants’ voluntary and involuntary reactions.
There are several types of focus groups that are commonly conducted:
- Diad: Focus Group with two respondents
- Triad: Focus Group with three respondents
- Mini Focus Group: Focus group with approximately 4-5 respondents
- Standard focus group: Focus group with 8 respondents
- Gang Test or Survey: Focus group or test with more than 12 respondents
In recent decades, focus groups have been considered as a leading qualitative market research technique for marketers. It can provide them with updated and prompt feedback from their target audience about their marketing idea. As many social scientists believe that a significant amount of communication is non-verbal, focus groups can provide observational insight as well as observation into how group dynamics influence purchasing decisions.
Uncovering Attitudes and Opinions
Since the participants belong to their target group, they can identify if the product creates the ideal perception in consumers’ mind as targeted by the company. It also helps marketers in learning the likes and dislikes of their target audience and realizing any shortcomings in their new products before making a market-wide launch. Often it also helps them in identifying the right target audience for their product. Market research firms “recruit” and “screen” respondents to participate in studies.
Often, monetary or non-monetary incentives are offered to the participants to motivate them. Research firms also arrange for an experienced facilitator and observer to get the best results out of the focus group session. Research companies typically pay respondents for their opinions and participation in market research studies.
The setting of a focus group can be an important consideration in the research findings. Placement of materials, of moderators and of respondents as well as the room can impact findings. Focus groups are often pre-scripted with a “Discussion Guide” to a certain extent, while leaving some room for spontaneity and the facilitator usually aims to include all participants in the discussion equally.
As market research goes digital, new tools such as online focus groups are gaining popularity.
About SIS Market Research
SIS International Research is a full-service Market Research company that conducts Focus Groups and Qualitative Research. We provide Focus Groups, moderators and participant recruitment services worldwide.