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Focus groups are one of market research’s most valuable tools. Unlike quantitative research measures (such as surveys and questionnaires), focus groups exist mainly to explore (via interactive discussion) the opinions, thoughts, and beliefs that motivate consumer behavior. Thus, they are often very helpful when you need to examine a particular topic in detail with consumers. Indeed, focus groups are commonly used to harvest information about new products and services for which little is yet known since the very nature of the shared group experience makes it easier and quicker for you to ask questions and clarify answers than other close-ended research methodologies. However, for focus groups to yield meaningful data, you have to ensure you’re recruiting the people capable of providing accurate, relevant information. Here’s what you need to consider in order to guarantee that your focus group is capable of revealing actionable insights:
In most instances, focus groups need to be comprised of people with similar characteristics. Of course, not all variables need to be identical. However, it is helpful for focus group participants to feel that they have at least one commonality — education, socio-economic status, age, etc. — so that they feel a kinship with group members and are more willing to share their ideas within a group setting. Familiarity often breeds comfort, allowing participants to share more fully and more honestly, the goal of all focus group recruitment efforts!
Perhaps most importantly, companies need to consider how they will protect focus group participants. Focus group research relies on candor. To ensure an open and honest discussion, focus group participants must feel at ease and sheltered from potential harm. To this point, every focus group recruitment plan should start with a document that explicitly details the topic(s) to be discussed and the rights of all participants, including how the group will moderate discussion and safeguard the privacy, well-being, and anonymity (following research conclusion/publication) of all involved. Having clearly established guidelines for the group means everyone is fully informed of and able to fully consent to the research objectives.
Finally, focus group recruitment will frequently require some sort of compensation in order to attract quality participants. Some focus groups offer payment for participants’ time. Many supply a reward or incentive (like gift cards or entry into a raffle or giveaway). Others market the focus group as a destination event, providing reimbursements for travel, lodging and/or meals in exchange for participation. The incentive offered can directly impact the overall make-up of the group; therefore, it’s important to choose compensation wisely. Offering too substantial an incentive could draw in participants who aren’t really interested in offering their opinions so much as receiving a financial reward. On the other hand, too little incentive could entice few or even no one to help.
Good focus groups provide companies with information that can be used to make good business decisions. And good groups depend on good people. To learn more about focus group recruitment so that you can assemble only the most qualified participants capable of offering you only the most relevant feedback, please contact our experts at Research America. We know what companies need to consider during focus group recruitment, thus ensuring that your next research project harvests the data you need!