A Focus group refers to a group of 10 or fewer individuals who gather in a room to discuss a product, service, concept or merely an idea. A focus group is a qualitative research method to find out different attitudes, responses about a subject. The Focus group can either react or discuss a series of survey questions or are given statements on which they share opinions.
Quick details: Focus Groups
Structure: Structured, Semi-structured
Preparation: Questions/ Topics, Participant recruitment
Deliverables: Recordings, Transcripts, Documentation
More about Focus groups
A focus group may also be given a product or service to try and then elicit reactions, feelings and general attitude towards that product or service in a group.
Focus groups are usually conducted by or on behalf of a business or organization, for market research. An experienced and skilled design research company who specializes in focus groups, can prove to be extremely valuable in planning, conducting, recruiting and evaluating data collected from focus group sessions and further translating them into insights for the business or organization to use.
Focus groups are traditionally carried out face-to-face, but online focus groups through web chat and forums are becoming increasingly popular. They are also more cost effective for organizations.
Focus groups are most helpful in situations where an immediate response can be used to improve a product, service offering, a campaign or even a simple concept.
Advantages of Focus groups
1. Firsthand Customer Interaction
Businesses can interact with their customers firsthand through focus groups. Working face-to-face with real customers and not an imaginary character can reveal deeper insights into the opinion as well as the behavior of their customers.
2. Deep Insights
An observant researcher can interpret the participant’s mood from their body language as well as tone of voice.
3. Time and Cost effective
Interviewing large groups of people together is more time and cost effective than interviewing people individually. Focus groups are quite useful in quick data collection from the group.
4. Simulated Customer Experience
In order to test a product, idea or service, customer experience can be simulated within a focus group and feedback can be collected on that experience for improvement even before the new product, service or concept is launched in the market. Of course, some elements must be controlled during the simulation but this approach can lead to data that can help tweak the offering.
5. Adaptive Conversation
The facilitator can steer the conversation or discussion on the idea under considered in the desired direction.
6. Variety of thoughts
Depending on the diversity of your focus group, the thoughts or opinions could be just as diverse.
Disadvantages of Focus groups
1. Very situation specific
Unlike most other design research methods, focus groups are applicable in all cases.
2. Not in-depth
Compared to in-depth interviews, focus groups do not allow the facilitator to dig deeper with every participant in the limited time allotted for the focused discussion.
3. Peer pressure
A few participants of a focus group may not express their opinions openly, get influenced by the opinions of other participants or sometimes not express themselves at all in a focus group discussion.
4. Relatively costly
Compared to surveys, focus group discussions are more expensive to execute as they also involve paying a fee to the participants of the focus group.
Think Design's recommendation
Focus groups is a very effective method when you need to get opinions of respondents in a group. Usually, users’ opinions about a product, service or a brand are influenced by several people and in real life, users do discuss these among peers. Focus group is a way of capturing those dynamics and is usually used for validating something.
Focus groups as a technique has recently been criticized due to an inherent issue: that generally, one of the participants is much more dominating than the others and tends to influence the entire group. In such a case, the outcome may be representative of such participant and not the entire group. However, we do believe that focus group is still one of the most widely used research methods and continue to be so. It does need an experienced moderator so that any challenges while conducting it are mitigated.