Focus Groups

  • Traditional and web-based focus groups
  • Participant identification, recruiting, screening and selection
  • Visual preference, product and proto-type testing
  • In-person and online group viewing
  • On and off-site focus groups
  • Client follow up and diary analyses
  • Bilingual interview capabilities

When Are Focus Groups the Right Approach?

Focus groups are a type of qualitative research where a number of people are asked about a certain subject. Subjects tend to be very diverse; however, researchers are almost always interested in the personal opinion, attitudes, or perceptions of the group. Focus groups are most appropriate when the research requires a give and take between the investigator and the respondent. It is one thing to ask a group of people a question; it is quite another to ask a series of follow-up questions or to probe more deeply about why a person feels a certain way. Focus groups allow this type of interaction; and, while they do not generate statistically significant results in the same way as a telephone, intercept or web-based survey, they are very useful in understanding why population groups hold certain beliefs and what messages might impact those beliefs.

From this perspective, focus groups are often very useful as a follow up to a survey. Let’s say that 72 percent of survey respondents indicated that they like Restaurant A better than Restaurant B. A properly designed survey could certainly obtain some information about why consumers thought Restaurant A was better than Restaurant B; but, if Restaurant B wanted to test alternative menu items or a new theme; or, if Restaurant A wanted to know how patrons might react if they changed portion sizes or changed service levels, that would require two key elements: (1) educating respondents and (2) allowing them to react to alternatives. When those two elements are present, a focus group is not only appropriate, but is likely to be the superior market research alternative.