What is a focus group in 100 words or less? [+ Pros and Cons]

What is a focus group in 100 words or less? [+ Pros and Cons]

In an ideal world, you would know how your product or business idea would be perceived before launch. This knowledge could help you make modifications to what you are offering to get the best possible reception and better inform your sales projections and marketing strategy. Unfortunately, you will never know exactly how your target audience will receive what you sell, which is why companies conduct market research. But, while the massive data collection through surveys provides you with the necessary quantitative information, it does not offer as much qualitative information about the vision or opinion of your target market about what you are selling. This is where a focus group comes in. So what is a focus group and how can it help you navigate your market research? Let’s explore those two questions below.

What is a focus group?

In the context of business market research, a focus group is a cohort of people who participate in a guided discussion about a business, brand, product, and / or service. Typically, a focus group is facilitated by company representatives and is made up of people from the company’s target market who share their thoughts and opinions on the topic or offering in question.

  <h2>What is the purpose of a focus group? </h2>

    Focus groups allow you to conduct qualitative market research on a product, service, or brand image in general.  They allow you to gather constructive sentiments, opinions, or perspectives that can help ensure that your product or service is useful to your target market and that your marketing materials are persuasive.  A focus group is typically moderated by a company representative or representatives, who ask participants 5-10 questions over the course of 30-60 minutes, with another facilitator taking notes on the <a rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" href="https://offers.hubspot.com/market-research-kit" target="_self">focus group questionnaire</a>.

Follow up with a free focus group quiz template

HubSpot Market Research Kit includes a questionnaire template to use in your focus groups, as well as four more templates to aid you in your market research efforts. You can download the kit here to help you plan your focus group and market research. You can also read more about the process of running an effective focus group in our blog post, How to Manage a Focus Group for Your Business.

  <h2>Focus group size</h2>

    A focus group can have between 3 and 15 participants, and many groups have between five and eight participants.  The size of your focus group depends on the resources and intentions of your company.  For example, the size may vary depending on whether you prefer a few in-depth opinions or a broader range of perspectives.  Next, let's explore the pros and cons of a focus group. 

The advantages of a focus group

1. You get the story behind the data.

In focus groups, qualitative data occupies a central place. The survey data is incredibly powerful, but it’s hard to understand the rationale behind the numbers without context. Focus groups are a way to understand how someone really feels about your business and provide the why behind the data. If someone answers a question in a way that interests you, you’ll have a chance to dig deeper. Do you ask why? “See how the other participants feel about the specific answer. Measure facial expressions and tone of voice to see how people react to what you are talking about. You will end up with emotional information from your target market that is possible. that your surveys cannot provide.

2. Focus groups are interactive.

Respondents to a survey or questionnaire cannot collect or use your products, but can do so in a focus group. If your focus group topic is tangible, observe and ask questions about how participants use the product and feel about the packaging and design. Here, you will see your product through the eyes of end users, which can help you realize something that you didn’t have before.

3. They are more efficient than interviews.

Interviewing people can take much more time than organizing focus groups with the same number of people. Let’s say you want to interview 100 people and each interview or focus group lasts one hour. Obtaining the opinions of those 100 people would take 100 hours if interviewed, but only 20 hours if the participants were divided into groups of five. This way, you can get qualitative feedback from multiple people in a shorter period of time, saving you a lot of time, especially if the majority of your participants are of the same opinion.

The cons of a focus group

1. They are not entirely representative.

What you gain from depth of focus group opinion, you lose from sample size. Because focus groups take more time than surveys, you will hear from tens or hundreds of people in longer than it would take to hear from thousands of people through your own surveys or by exploring secondary research, such as studies or surveys conducted previously. This restricts the number of people whose opinions you will receive, which means that your findings may not represent the opinions of your entire target market.

2. They can encourage groupthink.

Have you ever been to a meeting where one or two people express an idea that you disagree with, but everyone else agrees with the idea before you have a chance to say your piece? As a result, you might decide to follow the idea … even though you’re not their biggest fan? That is called groupthink, and it happens when a group supports a vocalized idea that not everyone believes is correct for the simple fact of moving forward or trying to avoid a conflict. Focus groups can quickly turn into one or two participants providing most of the answers, while the other four or five silently nod their heads. The problem is that you now only receive information from two participants, not from the entire focus group, as expected. You can avoid this by calling on specific group members to respond in depth, but some may be reluctant due to shyness or disinterest.

3. Moderators in your focus group may have confirmation bias.

Focus group moderators are often tied to the project in question and may enter the session with an idea of ​​where they think it will go, or want it to go. For example, a moderator may want a product to be priced, packaged, or colored in a certain way, and may lead the discussion to that conclusion. This is known as observer dependence. For example, let’s say a moderator wants a product to be blue and asks the group the open question: “What color should it be?” After everyone responds, and no one says blue, she might ask, “What about blue? Would it work?” Everyone nods silently, and she notes that the group agreed that blue would be a good color, even though that is far from the perfect truth. To overcome this, focus group facilitators must be explicitly instructed to set aside their personal preferences and act as target group facilitators. You can also work with a market research company, which typically has less interest in the product or topic than the company that is actually creating it. Focus groups may not be the most efficient source of data collection, but when used properly, they can put a face and an emotion behind the statistics and quantitative data you have collected to better inform your business, marketing and development. of products. Remember, focus groups are most effective when facilitators organize their thoughts in advance and take notes during the session on a focus group questionnaire, which you can get free access here in our market research kit.

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