Focus groups are one of the main qualitative research methods utilized in market research, to help understand broader consumer opinions. They are small, intimate discussions led by a researcher to gauge reactions to a particular product in a group setting. As the name indicates, they are focused on a single topic. Discussions between participants are encouraged, and can provide deeper insights that more linear forms of testing might not be able to.
Focus groups require meticulous planning upfront. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you get the most out of your research session:
Designate a leader
Choosing an experienced leader who is well-versed with the topic and is comfortable guiding discussion is arguably the most important step. Focus groups hinge on the ease of conversation for participants, and a leader who can facilitate a good discussion will undoubtedly give you the best responses.
Write down a conversation structure
All questions and topics should be written down in advance as a blueprint for the focus group. Understandably, the conversation might shift away from the main point, but having a solid outline can help the leader rein in the discussion.
Select your participants
Focus group participants should not be chosen at random. Ideally, they should be carefully selected as a representative sample of the larger target audience. Remember, the goal of the focus group is to get a wide range of opinions while still being relevant to the topic at hand – therefore, picking a group that can reflect the real consumer base will offer much more actionable qualitative data.
Record the discussion
The final step before conducting a focus group is to make sure you have a way to record the discussion. Plan to have either a video camera, voice recorder, or a notebook on hand to capture participants’ reactions (although many focus group facilities come equipped with recording equipment). Discussion can move quickly and cover a range of topics, so being able to replay the focus group can come in handy to researchers.
Focus groups can be extremely powerful ways to conduct market research, and along with other qualitative research methods, can provide an abundance of data. However, qualitative research has both strengths and limitations, and is therefore best used in balance with quantitative research.
How Is Invoke Different?
- Invoke Is Big Qual. An Invoke LIVE session brings every stakeholder together on a consumer-led journey that leads to a real-time decision.
- It’s inclusive, bringing together marketing executives, producers, showrunners, brand managers, business executives, and insights teams on an hour-long conversation with your target audience
- It’s conclusive, enabling you to probe audience sentiment, test concepts on the fly, attain clarity about strategy and message – and make the right decisions, often by session’s end
- It’s organic and illuminating, offering rich and sometimes unanticipated insights into how your audience view you and their world: the Why behind the What
- It’s qual and quant simultaneously, with audiences of many hundreds in a single session
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