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How to run a focus group

Pros and cons of market research before a product launch

Running a focus group is a well-known type of market research. But do you know how to run one?

A focus group is a qualitative type of research during which the researcher collects data based on the dialogue amongst the participants. Usually there are 4-8 participants, enough for the moderator to successfully lead the conversation as well as get an insight on people's views.

Data and insights are not based on numbers and questionnaires but on real-life interactions and reactions.

Learn more on why focus groups are helpful to your business and how to run one.


What's the use of a focus group


Focus groups are excellent for the type of research in which you want to explore opinions and reactions that you wouldn't normally get from other forms of research, such as a questionnaire. A face-to-face interaction can give you a deeper idea of a person's thoughts and way of thinking. Misunderstandings and thoughts can be better explained and clarified through conversation.

Focus groups can be conducted to get an insight into your company's culture, in business, on a brand, on a product, or on a service.

It's a great way to understand what is missing from your product or service before you decide to launch, and instead improve. Running a focus group for that reason will put you a step ahead of your competitors, as you've asked your customers and testers directly for approval before launching, and improved based on the feedback. You came out with a better product.


Why not conduct an interview instead?


Focus groups differ from interviews. They are both qualitative research types but in the former you gather data from participants interacting with each other whereas, during the latter, conversation is one-sided as one person asks questions and the other answers.


How to run a focus group yourself


Preparation is key.


To plan for your focus group efficiently, you need to be mindful of the research ethics and challenges.


Firstly, consent should be obtained before any form of research starts. You need to ensure that participants are willing and that the data you will collect will be truthful which means papers need to be signed as proof of consent.

You also need to ensure that the data and insights you will gather is going to be confidential and anonymous. Confidentiality and anonymity may sound similar but they are distinctive. The former means that the data is confidential, that any discussion and opinion shared during that group meeting will not be shared with anyone apart from the researcher and on his research paper. The latter means that real names will not be shared and participants' identity will remain protected.

Bias of the facilitator is another key limitation and issue in conducting research. The facilitator is the leader of the conversation and bias is an innate aspect of humans as everyone holds certain beliefs and opinions on an issue. Ensuring that the facilitator leads the conversation without their own bias is imperative.


Purpose of your research


You need to identify your aims and objectives of this research. Identify exactly what you want to find out, and the question you want to answer, in order to make your research as specific as possible.

Ask yourself:
  •  what is it that I want to know?
  •  how will I go about finding out the answer?

By defining your purpose and your research's aim, you are able to plan your questions and discussion prompts accordingly.


Participants


Invite appropriate participants too. Research on demographics and find your ideal participant that could potentially give you an interesting insight into your problem. It is important that you invite participants tailored to your research for relevant answers and insights.

The dynamics of the group should also be well balanced. For example, if most are extroverts, the introverts of the group might find it intimidating and difficult to participate. Group dynamics should be equally represented.


Be aware of the timings and the atmosphere


It is also important that you plan the timings of each stage of your research. This is the job of the moderator; not only to guide the participants during conversation but also to be aware of timings, don't let each session run for too long or for participants to repeatedly talk about one particular topic when it has been resolved. Be in control of the session.

Also, a friendly atmosphere is essential for participants to feel at ease and comfortable to share their views.


Virtual or In-person?


We live in a day and age where the pandemic has made coming into close contact with people a bit difficult. And a focus group's main purpose is to come together and discuss face-to-face.

However, virtual focus groups are becoming popular these days. They can be conducted in real time as well, with the same amount of participants and talking about any topic that concerns you and you're researching.


How we help you and your business


We are a paid focus group and survey platform in which we encourage people to take part and help businesses like yours get a real insight into a customer's viewpoint. This will help you improve your product and your brand before you launch and save money in the long-run.

Get in touch with us today.