Focus Groups

This week’s blog will be about focus groups! Focus groups can help companies and businesses find out information about issues consumers may be having with them, as well as positive information the consumer enjoys or likes. Our Market Research class was given a video to watch on a focus group session discussing airline travel. It was very interesting to watch and to get some insight on how a focus group session actually works. I will be talking about the steps involved to conduct a focus group, some helpful tips, as well as my own thoughts on the video and focus groups!

There are quite a few steps involved when conducting a focus group. The very first things you want to do is identify your participants, arrange the logistics, and develop the questions you want to ask in the session. You also want to make sure you arrive early to set up the room where you will be conducting the focus group. This includes setting up the recording device, doing a sound check and making sure lunches are ready for the participants when they arrive. Once the guests do arrive, you want to make sure you greet them in a friendly, calm way. You want to make them feel welcome.

Once all of the participants and the moderator have all gotten settled in the room, you can now begin the session. At the start of the session, give a welcome and introduction of what will be discussed, background information of the topic, ground rules for everyone to follow, and state the opening question. During the focus group, you want to make sure the participants talk to one another and engage in conversation. When the moderator asks the focus group a question, he or she should pause for 5 seconds to allow the participants to express on their thoughts and feelings about what is being asked. Once the participants start giving their opinion or answers to the question, you will have those who will ramble on about the subject and those who don’t talk as much. If someone just keeps talking about a subject, the moderator should wait for the participant to pause and then redirect the question to another participant. If the moderator is trying to get someone who hasn’t talked much during the session to answer the question, they might call on that particular person and have them give their opinion. The quiet participant will have no choice but to talk about their thoughts and feelings.

There are some strategies a moderator can use when trying to find out more information from the participants such as role playing and show of fingers. With role playing, you can pick two of the participants to act out an issue and how it should be taken care of. Then the whole focus group can reflect on the role playing. A way to get rapid feedback from the focus group is to have them use a show of fingers or thumbs up or down. This is a way to get immediate feedback on how they feel on certain issues they have dealt with in the past.

Once you have gathered all of the information from focus group, you now can conclude the session. When doing this, the moderator will usually ask all of the participants what the most important thing that was said during the session or something they learned. Once the participants have shared their insight, the moderator will turn to the Assistant Moderator to give a short summary of what he or she learned as well and if any of the participants want to add anything else before the discussion is over. After everyone has left and all of the information is gathered, the moderator and others will prepare an analysis report with the data.

Focus groups can be a really good way to gather data from consumers, but you have to make sure you follow all of these steps and tips to make it successful. The video I watched seemed like it went really well and the moderator was pleased with the results he gathered. I thought the whole process was interesting and didn’t know there was that much preparation in conducting a focus group. It definitely is an effective way to know how consumers feel about a company.



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