What is a Focus Group?

A focus group allows businesses to directly engage with their customers or other stakeholders and is one of our most popular research methods.

Generally, 5 to 12 people are brought together with a facilitator to discuss predetermined questions or topics relating to a brand, product, service or idea. These groups can be held in person, online or by teleconferencing.

Focus groups are often conducted in addition to other qualitative data gathering methods such as interviews and questionnaires and can be used to put the results of these other data gathering efforts in context.

Focus Group Advantages

Focus groups are an excellent research method to discover the attitudes of customers, employees or other stakeholders on a wide variety of topics. The insights can supply you with a thorough understanding of what your stakeholders think and just as importantly, why.

The focus group environment also allows for the moderator to introduce stimuli to the participants – such as new products, advertising ideas, promotional concepts, logos or new packaging – which yields first-hand, spontaneous reactions from the respondents that reveal their attitudes toward the topic.

Getting to know your audience and gauging their opinion on every element of a product or service is paramount to ensuring its future success.

At a glance – just some of the reasons to run a focus group:

  • To review brand identity and explore perceptions of your brand
  • To identify trends in buying patterns
  • To identify a product or service
  • To test a customer reaction to a product or service, aiding product development
  • To test a marketing strategy (direction for an ad campaign etc.)
  • To aid with employee research

Focus Group Disadvantages

You may wish to consider another market research method if you are in any of the following situations:

  • If you needed to obtain data from a larger sample
  • If you needed more quantitative (statistical) data
  • If you wanted to test the usability of your website

In one of the above situations, you could be better off taking advantage of one of our online surveys or other quantitative research methods.

Don’t worry if you are not sure what method is best, Rooster can advise you on the best type of research to meet your needs.

How Does the Typical Process of a Focus Group Unfold?

The optimal duration of a group discussion is anywhere between 1.5 and 3 hours.

Alongside the moderator, there will usually be another researcher taking notes and in some cases, the session might be recorded, whether by tape, recorder or video stream.

The primary responsibility when moderating the focus group is the wellbeing of the participants. The demeanour and behaviour at the start of the focus group are extremely important to set the right tone for the session.

Participants are seated at a table or around a room so that they can all see each other. Once participants have been offered refreshments, the moderator will begin the discussion. A short introduction “ice-breaker” exercise will help set the right tone and the background to the session will be explained by the moderator.

The typical pattern is: welcome, overview and topic, ground rules, ice-breaker and then the first question.

Through the use of open questions and activities, participants will be encouraged to disclose their habits, convictions, opinions, preferences, tastes or associations accordingly. Consequently, a discussion will be encouraged around these topics and all participants should be inspired to contribute.

As a moderator, it is important to keep the main objectives of the exercise in mind at all times – what do I need to know? And why?

It is also important to keep the sessions interactive to encourage engagement and participation. Whilst question and answer is the most common format for short focus groups, alternative activities used by Rooster include (for variety):

  • List making
  • Fill in the blank exercises
  • Brand/logo challenges
  • Fantasy/daydream exercises
  • Picture drawing
  • Role-playing
  • Card sorting

The moderator will lead a summary exercise at the end to summarise key themes, check for understanding and ask any additional questions.

Once the group has been concluded, a final report is then written by the research team, summarising those all-important insights.

At Rooster, typically the results of focus groups are compiled with other data gathered from surveys, interviews, on-site visits, and other data collection points and then written into the final strategic planning report.

Why Use Rooster to Conduct Your Focus Group

It is important to ensure you gauge the true attitudes and opinions of your focus group, and the only way you can do this is to have your focus group run by a third party.

At Rooster, we use a trained moderator to utilise the dynamics of the group to discuss topics in-depth and allow the views of all the participants to be considered. This interaction among the people in the group is one of the most valuable parts of the process. We like to make our sessions as interactive and fun as possible – and probe for actionable insights that will make a difference, in a relaxed and positive atmosphere.

Whether you want to run small or large focus groups, brand workshops, target market exercises, product testing sessions, or more, Rooster will be able to advise you on the best options. Ultimately, we will ensure that the session is designed to obtain you the best insights to inform those all important business decisions.

Focus group discussions can take place your choice of location, or here at our Mill. Alternatively, groups can be held online or via teleconferencing.

For more information please get in touch or view our market research service pages.