Focus group are one of the most commonly used marketing research techniques. A single focus group generally consists of 8 – 12 individuals who meet to discuss a topic of interest under the guidance of a moderator. The emphasis is on “discuss”. A focus group is NOT a one-to-many interview but rather a communication event where participants are expected to share their views on the topic according to a schedule of questions devised by or for the moderator. This means that participants are expected to respond to the views of others. That response can consist of both verbal and non-verbal behaviour and both can be captured for analysis. The skill of the moderator is very important in generating the interaction in a focus group.
Focus groups are very useful for gathering quick insights into a range of issues. In Marketing they are used for gaining insight into almost everything from product concepts to advertising effectiveness. In general, their best use is for understanding “what” and “why”: what views individuals hold and why those views are held. For example, a focus group can be used to explore consumer responses to existing products or to new product introduction. They can also be used to probe into future behaviour e.g. how likely individuals are to buy a product if it were available.
However, focus groups must be used judiciously; a good rule of thumb is never to use the findings of focus groups ALONE to make a “go-no go” decision such as commercializing a new product; the findings of a single focus are even less reliable for this purpose. Upcoming TAP (Theory and Practice) articles on the CCME’s site will provide in-depth background knowledge on the nature and use of focus groups.
At the CCME we handle your focus groups in the same professional manner as any other form of research. That is why we request or work with you to develop a comprehensive brief to guide the research process. Ideally it should contain some background to the company and or the product or product line it wishes to investigate, what specific decisions the company wants to make, its perceptions as to what information it think will help make that decision and its requirements for the focus group.
Companies sometimes do not understand the critical importance of these pieces of information to the research director because they may not appreciate the difference between the decisions they want to make and the research that is required to generate the data needed to make those decisions. At the CCME we understand the difference and, therefore, we take the time to probe into the background to the problem, help to conceptualize or refine the research problem and ultimately, to clearly define the investigative questions posed to the focus group. This is of immense help in ensuring that our clients obtain value for money. Ready to request that focus group? Fill out the initial contact form below.
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