1. Focus groups are all about understanding your customers, really digging deep into their needs, wants, and emotional reactions. This information can be very useful to business planning; however, it should always be remembered that focus groups are qualitative research there is no statistical significance associated with it, and it cannot be applied to the general population.
2. Recruiting is a key aspect of focus group success. It isn’t a numbers game – rather, more importance should be placed on finding the right people for your groups. A conversation with six very qualified participants will likely yield more fruitful results than a session with ten unqualified participants. Participants should be screened to ensure they are qualified and knowledgeable in the topic at hand. Also, incentives are generally offered to encourage participants to attend.
3. Make sure you thoroughly review and understand the moderator’s guide. This is the tool that your moderator will be using to keep the group on track, encourage feedback useful to your research project, and lead conversation. Make sure you are comfortable with everything included in the guide.
4. A good moderator is vital to focus group success. Your research firm will likely have skilled, qualified moderators available for any focus groups you are conducting. Depend on these moderators to keep conversation flowing, and to evoke the “intimate strangers” feeling among the group.
5. Always plan to attend your own focus groups. There is usually a room available for viewing focus groups. Viewing the participants in real time allows you to hear and see useful insights that may not get captured in the written report, and you’ll be able to request clarification or additional information if something a participant says is unexpected or unclear. However, do be sure to watch quietly, and wait to ask your moderator questions until s/he comes to the back room at specified times. These times should be outlined in your moderator’s guide if they are not, request that at least one moderator visit to the backroom be added in.
If you are interested in learning more, please go to the Market Connections website and sign up for our free e-course about focus groups.