Focus groups are an invaluable way of collecting information for market research. Unfortunately, they are underutilized, often due to the expense of hosting the study and difficulties coordinating groups of people. There are ways to design focus groups to help you achieve your data collection goals.
Schedule Multiple Sessions
You need to be cognizant of your scheduling for focus groups, because you want a better mix of participants. Try to have multiple, smaller sessions that include daytime, night, and weekend scheduling. Since many focus groups are during the typical business hours, you are more likely to have participants who are unemployed, students, or seniors. Although these people are important members of your demographic, scheduling sessions during business hours likely excludes people who are employed or those with young children who are the primary caretaker. The more flexible you are with scheduling, it will be easier to find the number of participants you need to meet your overall goal.
Virtual focus groups are popular for many reasons. Unlike in-person focus groups, it is much easier for many people to come together for an hour or so in the comfort of their home to participate. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to include participants from across the country, which is unlikely to happen with in-person focus groups. Generally, scheduling a virtual focus group in the late afternoon to early evening allows you to include people across multiple time zones within the country. Another advantage to virtual focus groups is you are more likely to gain honest feedback, especially regarding sensitive topics. It can be uncomfortable to discuss politics, religion, or sexuality in front of others. Since participants usually have a code name, they may be willing to give detailed answers since they have some anonymity in the group.
Consider A Preliminary Survey
Whether you choose an in-person or virtual focus group, using a preliminary survey can be helpful. You might ask basic questions you would normally ask during the focus group, but use the time during the focus group to expand on answers. This way, you can drastically reduce the time a focus group lasts, which may be especially important if you incentivize participants based on the study length. The preliminary survey can also be used by the researchers to develop new questions they might want to ask. This might include additional questions that were not originally part of the preliminary survey, but would provide better clarity on the subject or promote more interaction between participants.
Focus groups are an in-depth way of gaining information from participants. By using different tactics, you can feel confident that you are utilizing your time and money wisely.
Contact a market research facility for more advice.