As a tool for marketing research, or to be more precise, a tool within qualitative research tools, focus groups are often applied to analyze perceptions, attitudes and ideas that people have towards a product or a service in an interactive group and able to enjoy free talk. Generally, a focus group gathers 6 to 9 persons regarded as participants under the moderation of the moderator. The latter is asked to lead the participants to talk about the required subjects and ensure a comfortable atmosphere.
Regarding its use for marketing, a focus group makes it possible to get group dynamics, open discussion, qualitative data, exploratory purposes, etc. There are interactive effects among those participants whose remarks will be influenced by others’ or based on others’. Compared to a one-to-one interview, a focus group makes it possible to place people in a natural and active conversation as a result of interaction among them. For participants, their discussion is totally open without any restrictions, though the questions are asked in the same way for all participants by the moderator. Besides, focus group, as they go into the category of qualitative research, we should avoid displaying the results in a quantitative form since the group is just a small sample. Focus groups suit perfectly a study for exploratory purposes. After defining users’ consuming habits, patterns and languages, we are able to collect new ideas in product conception.
Generally speaking, compared to other market study methodologies, focus groups are more practical and exhibit advantages in terms of cost, time, efficiency and understanding of users’ beliefs. With the interaction created within a group, the data and insights obtained through the group discussion contribute to raise unexpected issues so that we could have more exploration in our research. In addition, focus groups make it possible to get lower costs compared to surveys and one can enlarge his marketing results by increasing the number of respondents. However, focus groups also exhibit some issues and criticism. Focus group requires a good ability of management, control of the moderator, due to whom there may be a deviation in results. Besides, domineering and passive participants will as well affect the accuracy of data. Compared with in-depth interview, focus groups cannot reveal detailed information. Sometimes, the participants may hold back their responses and try to answer moderator’s questions with answers the participants fell that the moderator wants to hear. So focus groups tend to some conservatism, especially for Chinese. Moreover, focus groups are not suitable to analyse the use of a product or service and definition of customers, because participants’ opinions and those of real clients may have a big difference. At the end of the discussion, we come to analyse the obtained data. On this issue, people have different ideas about the way that we analyse. Some suggest that data analysis be dealt in the way it was done, that is to say , analysed by a group of persons. Because of a consensus reached when some people have not spoken, the data are not as credible as it should, which leads to a deviation of analysis.
To know more about China Focus Group
Written by Pu Dan from Daxue Consulting China