focus groups – pros and cons.

A focus group is a method used in the context of a marketing strategy where a group of individuals are offered a certain scenario and provide their opinions, beliefs and perceptions to reveal their attitudes concerning a concept, product, advertisement, service, idea, or a type of packaging. Typically, a group is invited to participate based upon certain individual factors. Individuals are asked questions within an interactive setting where they talk freely along with other participating group members.

Benefits of Data Mining

Data mining is used for marketing purposes and involves searching, collecting, analyzing and processing information from various sources. Focus groups are beneficial for the process of data mining in that they allow for companies and organizations to discover distinctive information about customers and consumer behavior. The kind of information revealed from a focus group is rarely accessible from any other method, since it is the result of an interactive discussion forum.

Group Discussion Benefits

Group discussions produce information and insight in what is otherwise less accessible about key marketing concerns. In group discussions, individuals are afforded the ability to listen to other points and view, consider that information and then react to it immediately. By having the opportunity to listen to other people’s experiences, new ideas and memories are stimulated to form different and conclusions which they may not have otherwise arrived at. Group members also discover common languages to describe very similar experiences. This atmosphere enables a unique type of disclosure which can be very beneficial for market research purposes.

Data Validity

Focus groups are sometimes thought of as “one shot case studies,” particularly when they concern the social sciences. However, when focus groups are repeated, they elevate to a more valid study. The issue of external validity is a concern for any form of qualitative research, especially with regard to observer dependency. For example, results obtained are usually in some way influenced by the person conducting the research.

Types of Focus Groups

The types of focus groups used in a number of marketing strategies are varied. Some of the more popular focus groups include:

*Traditional. A single moderator with from 6-12 people

*Dual moderator. One moderator oversees mechanics; the other topics covered

*Two-way. One group observes another focus group

*Respondent. One respondent acts as temporary moderator

*Dueling moderators. Opposite sides are covered on an issue

*Client participant. Overtly or covertly, one or more client representatives participate

*Mini. Smaller groups of 4-5 members

*Teleconference. Discussion over telephone network

*Online. Moderate and members connect over the Internet

Focus Group Challenges

While focus groups are a very effective method for gathering qualitative research, the technique does experience some execution challenges. For example:

*Finding good quality participants in certain less populated areas

*Cost of rewarding participants

*Certain intimate and competitive topics are unsuitable for focus groups

Traditional focus groups provide accurate information and are typically less expensive than other forms of marketing research. However, when products will be marketed nationally, attitudes gathered from different locales requires geographical considerations. This also requires much more travel expenditure for both focus group professionals and their clients.

Focus Group Benefits

Observing focus group discussions provides marketing professionals with valuable opinions surrounding issues, revealing specific words and phrases used by customers and consumers.This information leads to a more clear view of the target market and becomes an essential aspect of any comprehensive marketing strategy. The market research professionals at bowden2bowden can help you achieve a competitive advantage in the marketplace.


7 thoughts on “focus groups – pros and cons.

  1. What a great post Randy, you’ve shared information that I am sure many would be learning for the first time.

    • Thank you Michelle. Small – mid size business owners (our targets) are often lacking basic marketing knowledge, when you start talking qualitative research the glazed eye’s are often obvious.

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