Types of focus groups for you to explore
Single Focus GroupTypically involves a small group of respondents with a single moderator asking questions related to the topic of discussion.
Mini Focus Group Consisting of only 4 to 5 respondents a mini focus group is a closed group, the topics of discussion in general are related to sensitive subjects.
Two-Way Focus GroupAs the name suggests, this format consists of two groups with a single moderator for each group. Here, one group usually observes and comments on the discussions between the members of the other focus group. This can be used to gather different view points and gain deeper insights.
Dual Moderator Focus GroupThis format requires two moderators for a single group. When two moderators are present, the chances of going off track are low. One moderator focuses on asking questions and the other makes sure that the questions are answered with relevance.
Dueling Moderator Focus GroupAlso conducted with two moderators, where the moderators take opposite stances to prompt the group to more deeply explore a topic and different view points.
Respondent Moderator Focus GroupThis format allows focus group respondents to take up the role of the moderator for a limited period. This encourages the respondents to provide different perspectives while also enriching the results with useful information. It helps reduce moderator bias as it allows respondents to control the questioning and steer away from leading and biased questions.
Remote Focus GroupHugely dependent on tele-con or online video conferencing, a remote focus group format gives you access to respondents from otherwise restricted locations. While some researchers may find this type of focus group not as effective as in-person interaction, it facilitates the option for anonymity. This makes remote groups a good option to explore intimate products or even explore personal topics for companies.
  • How to conduct a focus group session
  • Roles and responsibilities in a focus group
  • Common question types and their uses
  • How focus groups can level up your research study
  • Examples of focus group situations

How to conduct a focus group session?

1

Choose a topic and determine the goals of the focus group session.

2

Create an elaborate questionnaire where you touch on every aspect of the discussion.

3

Carefully handpick participants with relevant backgrounds.

4

Appoint a moderator with unbiased views to steer the discussion in the right direction.

5

Choose an appropriate location to create a comfortable and suitable environment.

6

Recruit respondents in accordance to the format of the focus group.

7

Conduct a timed session.

8

Analyze the session and present an extensive report, along with any conclusions drawn.

Roles and responsibilities in a focus group

Respondents in a focus group:

As focus groups are more about qualitative research, the selection of respondents is the first and most important step for creating focus groups. Selecting respondents with relevant knowledge and background is crucial. Broadly categorize participants based on personality types such as , dominant/expressive, shy/sensitive or impressionable. Each respondent is responsible for extending genuine opinions and having respectful conversations.

Moderator in a focus group:

A moderator should ideally be well-informed about the topic being discussed. Most importantly, they have to be unbiased and thoroughly equipped to encourage healthy discussions. A moderator is responsible for being objective, maintaining decorum, analyzing discussions and providing a detailed report of the session.

Common question types and their uses:

Asking the right type of questions will help you extract the best information from the participants. However, the results largely depend on the moderator's ability to engage the respondents in an effective way. Some of the commonly used question types are:

Engagement questions

Asked in the beginning of the discussion to encourage participation and allow them to acquaint themselves with the subject.

Example

  • What type of gadget do you use the most?
  • What is your general perception towards advertisements?
  • What do you think of this gadget brand's ad campaign?

Exploration questions

These type of questions are used shortly after initiating the session to understand the feelings of the consumer about a specific product or brand.

Example

  • Is there a specific reason why you feel that way?
  • Have you come across better campaigning strategies?
  • What are alternatives you suggest?

Exit questions

Generally asked at the end of session, these questions should be structured in a way that the moderators can reach a conclusion after an extensive analysis.

Example

  • Why do you think these are the best alternatives?
  • Is there anything else you would like to say?

How focus groups can level up your research study?

Pros: Focus group discussions have a distinct advantage over other market research methods because they help you probe into the sentiments of a subject. In-person discussions help provide high quality information and eliminate misinterpretations of a discussion topic. Respondent behavior and body-language also provide data on how they perceive the subject. The process is also time saving as each session ends with a definite conclusion.
Cons: Since every market segment is complex, a small group of selected members cannot truly represent the population on a larger scale. While the results are fairly quick, the time taken during respondent selection is significantly longer. The discussion and the results are predominantly based on respondent personalities, and on how well they participate in the discussion. The discussions can also go off-track if the session is not moderated effectively.

Examples of focus group situations

Here are some instances where focus group discussions are commonly used:

  • To prep before commencing a research study.

    A video game company wants to launch a new game console and needs to understand its target audience better. Focus groups consisting of children, teenagers, young adults and video game enthusiasts can give a clear picture of consumer expectations of the product. As the results have a qualitative aspect to them, they can be served as a pilot study for more quantitative research.

  • To gather information and build product strategy.

    A technology company is conducting market research to build a smart phone with voice recognition features. A focus group discussion with the right questions about feature evaluation can help them channel their research in the right direction. These groups provide in-depth insights on consumer behavior and perceptions of the feature.

  • To cross-verify results from a study.

    A survey has been conducted to understand customer sentiment towards the branding of a product. The quantitative results acquired from a brand acceptance survey can be discussed with a group of respondents in a focus group representing the target segment of the product being branded.

Strategies like research which includes focus group testing and other forms of VOC will help you provide high quality products/services through rich consumer insights. The only way to make sure your research methods are effective is to understand when and how to use them.

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