What Is A Focus Group?

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The term ‘focus group’ refers to a group interview that involves a small number of demographically similar individuals. Their reactions to particular researcher-posed questions are studied. Focus groups are utilised in market research as well as studies of individuals’ political views.

The discussions may be guided or open. These can concern a new product or something else. The idea in a focus group is for the researcher in order to learn about the participants’ reactions. If group members are representative of a bigger population, those reactions may be expected to reflect the views of that broader population.

Thus, focus groups area research method that researchers organise for the purpose of collecting qualitative data, through interactive and directed discussions.

How Can Focus Groups Be Used?

Focus groups can be utilised in three ways in the research design:

  • Stand alone: This is where the focus groups are the only data collection method and they serve as the only source of data.
  • Supplementary: Here, focus groups are used to enhance alternative means of data collection. Usually, this would be as a precursor to a quantitative phase – determining the issues to be covered in the structured interviewing as well as giving insights into the problems or opportunities which are being researched.
  • As part of a multi method design: This is where studies make use of a number of different sources of data collection and no one method regulates the usage of the others.

Focus group discussions are particularly useful for researching new products, testing novel concepts or determining “what would happen if?” They work as delegates are able to digest the points raised by other members and, as they debate the implications of issues raised, further ideas may be sparked off which would remain untapped in a personal interview.

What Are The Benefits Of Focus Groups?

Focus groups are valuable as they allow alternative ways of obtaining information from consumers without utilising surveys, which tend to be seen as scientific and just produce quantitative data. Focus groups make use of qualitative data collection methods. Just like in the dynamics of real life, the participants have the ability to interact, influence as well as be influenced — giving actionable insight into customers’ knowledge of their brands, products or – alternatively – services.

Focus groups have a distinctive advantage over other types of market research as they are flexible by design. You are able to listen to someone’s tone and also view their body language when talking in order to better understand how they feel about a specific subject. A good moderator who prepares well for a focus group will act as a proxy for the decision-makers and capitalise on the ability to talk to customers directly.

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