Focus Groups: The Perfect Addition to your Research Tool Box
When evaluating a business objective or the potential for success of a new consumer product, facts and figures – or the hard data – often lead the decision-making process. Quantitative data is definitely important, but the opportunity to include qualitative data should not be overlooked.
Focus groups can be a great way to learn about a target demographic or potentially discover that who you thought was your key audience, really isn’t. Market research shows companies like Lego, Apple, Nest and McDonald’s utilize focus groups and qualitative data before, during and after launching a product.
Below are five special features of focus groups that set them apart from other research methodologies.
Insights, More Important than Rules
Focus groups can provide trustworthy naturalistic data that also leads to important insights about human behaviors by allowing all participants to say anything they would like in front of the whole group. Researchers are able to listen not just to the content of the discussions, but observe the tone and emotions which help them to learn, or confirm not just facts but the meaning behind the facts.
Social not Formal
In a focus group session, conversation among participants results in “discussion data.” In this way, focus groups can gather information that paints a portrait of combined perspectives. It is possible to gauge a groups’ overall reaction to an idea or product as well as see the individual reactions. According to Elite Daily, 42% of millennials are interested in helping companies develop future products, and they also enjoy collaborating. Take advantage of this!
Flexible not Rigid
During the course of a two-hour session, natural conversations will arise. Individuals are encouraged to laugh, tell personal stories, revisit earlier questions and even disagree with other research. The moderator only needs to lead the conversation by applying the prepared interview guide. A well-designed guide encourages group members to relax, open up, think deeply and consider alternatives.
Words Not Numbers
Focus groups rely upon the words spoken by its participants. A report based on focus groups will feature patterns formed by words, called themes or perspectives. Researchers must use specific methods to analyze patterns in spoken language. Many focus groups utilize transcripts. By reviewing transcripts, themes and specific word choices will become apparent.
Last but not least is the importance of the role of moderator in focus groups. Face-to-face involvement of a qualified and experience moderator ensures that the conversation is always on track and encourages group engagement without the threat of one or two individuals dominating the session. For example, moderators know how to start conversations with open-ended questions. A sample of an open-ended question would be “What do you think of this story?” This question promotes discussion about the story. A close-ended question such as “Did you like the story?” does not promote discussion.
The next time your business is looking for a research method to assist in its next big business venture or consumer product launch, take time to consider how a focus group could add an important qualitative look at the quantitative numbers. And when you’re ready to get started with your own focus group, consider using the focus group amenities available at BIG YAM, the Parsons Agency.