Focus group is a type of research, or, more precisely, a type of qualitative research. It involves a group of people who should answer given questions about some product, idea, service etc. It is one of the most often used tools for getting results by doing qualitative research.
How does the focus group look? It is a meeting of people who are talking on a certain subject, provided by the trainer. The atmosphere should be comfortable in order to get people to say their sincere opinion on the topic discussed. That is its biggest advantage opposite to the poll or plain interview.
Group of people involved in this kind of research should be demographically diverse in order to get as objective results as possible. There is a tendency to look at the topic from many different angles. The diversity shouldn’t be random, but rather needs to include relevant representatives from the target market. Research can be conducted before the discussed item is launched to the public, or it can provide continuous tracking of the item’s success.
The usual number of people in the focus group is six to ten. Conversation among them may last for one or two hours. Conference room with round table is often chosen, but other indoor or outdoor spaces can sometimes work better. The important thing is that the chosen environment matches the topic and provides inspiration for authentic ideas and thoughts.
Another optional characteristic of focus group is a third party watching it. It can be done from the other side of the one-way mirror or by recording the meeting so it can be viewed afterwards. This helps getting better, more objective conclusions from what the participants have said.
Words being said are not the only thing that is observed. People’s gestures, face expressions, the way they talk and other factors can reveal a lot of useful information, so the person heading the focus group should be well trained to be able to see all of that. It is not rare that focus group trainers are psychologists.
Focus groups in marketing
It is not difficult to imagine how useful focus groups may be in the marketing field. They are often used when trying to create better selling product, get honest opinions from real people, and see if the product has met their expectations.
Focus group can help determine if the new product is going to sell, how will people react to it, is there anything that can be done in order to make it better etc. All this can help a lot if carried out in the early stages, before the product hits the market.