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Advantages and disadvantages of a focus group in market research

Focus group image

Before launching a new product or service, it is essential that you get the opinions of consumers. This is to prevent damage to your brand and business as well as losing revenue.

In product market research there are several methodologies that you could utilise in order to find answers to your questions such as interviews or questionnaires. Focus group research is another method of gathering quality data.

Here we explain the advantages and disadvantages of conducting focus groups.


What is a focus group?


It is a type of qualitative research that focuses on gathering data from people rather than numbered data from questionnaires. A group gathers and through dialogue, the researcher gathers insights and data in relation to their objectives.

In focus groups usually 4-12 people participate each time, discussing topics such as brands, products, services, even politicians.

This type of research gathers insights and data through ideas and opinions discussed rather than numbers and clear statistics.


Advantages of organising focus groups in research


Cost preventative


The main aim of any research before the launch of a project or product is to acquire customer insights to predict purchase behaviour and prevent faulty goods or dissatisfied customers. A focus group will prevent you from launching your brand or a product without having a general idea of how customers will interact with you.

If you launched with this type of research, and the launch was not successful, that would require extra funding from your side to repair the reputation damage, to improve the product and rebrand.

Focus groups are a way of predicting the future, preventing you from acquiring extra costs from preventative mistakes. You save money by investing in customer insights.


Improve before launch


Research also gives you the opportunity to make improvements before launching. It is not only to predict customer behaviour and prevent dissatisfied customers, but to also improve on your product or service based on the feedback you get.

In a focus group setting, you get real-time reactions and a better feeling of what participants really think. You understand better what needs to improve before launch. You are able to fully prepare for the launch instead of doing it blindly, refining and improving.


Deeper conversations, better insights


Through focus groups, you will get a deeper understanding of your participant's perception of the topic discussed. Conversation is face to face, ideas flow easier between people and so opinions and discussions are deeper and more valuable. Better insights and deeper conversations will provide you with a different and more versatile angle to your research, which you wouldn't be able to achieve through a questionnaire.


Disadvantages of organising focus groups in research


Bias


Another limitation of such research method is that the dynamics of a group might lean towards one way than distributed equally amongst everyone. This is because in a diverse group of people you can have the quiet ones and the loud ones, the introverts and extroverts, the attention-seekers and the avoidants.

Which leads us to our next disadvantage.

Groupthink


In social settings, people tend to agree more than disagree to avoid confrontation. They also tend to conform to ideas of a group even if they disagree.

This prevents participants from discussing their honest views and giving a truthful opinion because they tend to think like the rest of the group, as one. The aim of the focus group is to understand people's honest views through conversation, but this is not possible when they gravitate towards thinking like the rest of the group.

Leaders vs Reserved individuals


Another limitation of such research method is that the dynamics of a group might lean towards one way than distributed equally amongst everyone. This is because in a diverse group of people you can have the quiet ones and the loud ones, the introverts and extroverts, the attention-seekers and the avoidants.

Because there is no true balance within each group conversation and consequently data might be 'one-sided'. This is because the chatty ones might be more willing to share, and consequently lead the conversation and the general opinion of the group, influencing quiet people's voice.

This situation will influence the overall purpose of the focus group as well as the data.


Do I go ahead?


It is ultimately your decision whether you'd organise a focus group for your research or not. Weighing the pros and cons, you decide whether you will be able to acquire unbiased data which is as truthful as possible.