Focus Groups and Group Discussions Explained
Focus groups are one of the ranges of techniques used by Qualitative researchers. They tend to bring together a group of target market respondents who are then encouraged to discuss and debate a specific topic. Focus groups are usually conducted in-home, central locations such as a hotel or workplace or in a special ‘Viewing Facility’.
Focus groups, which are also known as a Group Discussion or Workshop, are led by a trained moderator (or facilitator), who often utilises a discussion guide to ensure that the discussion remains relevant. Typically, the focus group moderator is given licence to explore the theme with a degree of flexibility, allowing respondents to explore ideas and themes that arise in the groups.
Qualitative Focus groups are often used at the start of a larger project to explore a range of issues in order to get into the consumer mindset, and this may then be followed with a larger quantitative stage of research to provide measurable findings (e.g. %). Sometimes, they are also conducted after a quantitative study to explore how or why certain groups feel or behave in a certain way.
Focus groups are very popular with marketers who want to understand how people feel about their marketing communications (e.g. advertising, packaging) or to help in the new product and brand development process to help explore and refine ideas such a brand proposition and positioning.