Sometimes surveys and used research are not enough to understand what is going on in people's minds. In this case, you need to bring a group of target customers into a room to hold a focus group. For the uninitiated, however, this could seem more difficult than it is. In this article, we look at what a focus group is, look at its pros and cons, and look at the challenges you need to face.
A focus group is a market research method in which a small group of different people is involved, who have the task of learning and discussing a specific product, a specific service or a specific topic. The reactions of the focus group participants form qualitative data that can be analyzed and extrapolated to predict how the product or service can be perceived by the larger population.
The best time to use focus groups is when personal, socially-oriented feedback is most important. For example:
Focus group research has several advantages over other research methods. Using focus groups in your research offers a variety of advantages. This variety of benefits offers a wide range of benefits, including:
Focus groups deliver results in a much faster time frame than other market research methods. After all, your research will come straight from your group when they meet. As a result, it is collected at once. You decide when the group should take place and you will get useful data as soon as the focus group starts.
Not only is the data captured quickly, it is real data that was gathered through discussion and provides real insight into how real people react to your product or service. Questionnaires can be unreliable because you may not experience data entry, but you can observe, record, and analyze all reactions during focus group research. This gives your research with a focus group an immediacy and authenticity that is not available with other methods.
This approach offers you something that other forms of research simply cannot do. The dynamics lead to unpredictable results that can turn out to be the most useful data of all. This may not always be the case (see the downsides below), but individuals can get stuck in a particular mindset as groups interact and inspire more and more interesting thoughts and opinions.
Compared to other types of marketing and research methods, focus group research is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. You will need a meeting point for your group and possibly some refreshments depending on how long your session will last. Unlike questionnaires, which may require online software and a marketing campaign to collect the right information, just invite some of your best customers.
The problem with questionnaires is that they depend on you knowing the right questions. In contrast, focus group participants use their own language to describe how they feel about your product or service. They therefore lead to more precise data that are not restricted by predefined answers or requests.
Using focus groups has some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of before choosing this path. Most of these can be avoided by properly setting up the group, although this could be difficult for many people per se. The disadvantages of using a focus group for market research include:
While positive group dynamics can inspire group participants to express their feelings about a topic in a more expressive and descriptive way, negative group dynamics can have the opposite effect. It is important that there are no dominant personalities who could unduly influence the results.
It is also true that not all data collected through group interviews can be extrapolated to a broader population. This presents some obvious challenges. It is very likely that focus group participants will not specify exactly how the wider population will respond to a product or service.
It can be difficult enough to identify a suitable focus group participant, let alone an entire selection that provides the relevant insight you need! This is especially true if you are new to the process and have no experience with whom and how to contact. Take the example of a new business with no customer base or industry contacts from which you can draw.
Certain market research methods give you a lot of control over how people react and what answers they give to certain prompts. This type of research has its place, but is very limited. The price of losing these restrictions is an equivalent loss of control over the behavior of group participants.
Moderating group interviews and discussions requires certain skills, and this can be a problem if there is no one who knows how and when to participate to drive the group discussion in a useful direction.
So what are some of the key concerns that small business owners have about this type of research? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, starting with the most frequently asked of all.
Focus groups can come in all shapes and sizes, so their costs are varied and determined by a variety of factors. Funding is required to recruit group participants, and the cost of more specialized recruits increases. You'll also need travel expenses, food, and refreshments. Added to this are the set-up costs such as room rental and transportation or operation of the necessary equipment. In addition, the fees of a professional moderator and a normal market research focus group will cost between $ 4,000 and $ 12,000.
Smaller companies will obviously want to target the lower end of this scale, or even the lower end if possible, and there are several ways to do this. An advantage of smaller companies when using focus groups is that they are unlikely to need multiple groups in multiple cities and states. This is definitely a great way to keep costs down. Using just one group may not make sense, but two from the same area will not increase your costs too much.
You can also keep the size of the groups and the time required to a minimum. Another tip is to look for facilities where you can conduct the focus group for free. Search for community libraries or set up your own office as a temporary focus group room.
You can also minimize your costs by taking on a large part of the organizational and moderation responsibility yourself. For a relatively small investment, a tool like the Focus Group Kit can guide you through the entire process of organizing a focus group.
Yes, you can have online focus groups. Two approaches include:
Focus groups can be a brilliant market research strategy that can save you a lot of time and money if organized on a budget. It may be a daunting challenge at first, but once you know what to do, you can take your marketing strategy to a whole new level.