Traditional Focus Groups
Focus groups are the best way to explore a topic in order to learn how respondents think about it, or to investigate the attitudes and beliefs that drive behavior. Traditional focus groups are led by a moderator with groups of 8-12 respondents. This size group is large enough to provide diverse opinions, while small enough to assure everyone participates.
We are advocates of the focus group moderation techniques taught at the RIVA Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, which create an environment that encourages openness and expression of diverse opinions to get the most from participants. Conversations move from broad to specific, and follow the organic discussion flow of the group. When a respondent brings up a point of interest we direct the talk to it, assuring we hear from each participant. This approach will provide you insights that aren’t blurred by moderator or participant biases. Groups can either be conducted in our on-site space with adjacent viewing room, or our moderators can travel to a location more convenient for you.
Traditional focus groups are best if you:
- Want an in-depth dialog that can help you understand the language respondents use
- Want to understand the attitudes and beliefs that drive thinking and behavior
- Are testing actual products or materials
Online Focus Groups
Focus Groups can now be conducted online, and there are two approaches to do so.
Mimic a traditional group
Questions are posed to the participants by the moderator for about an hour. The participants type their responses to those questions and to the comments of their fellow participants.
Participants commit to logging in for a short period of time over the course of several days to view and respond to requests by the moderator and comments by others.
Either type of online group is especially effective with today’s generation of consumers who have grown up in chat rooms or with text messaging. These respondents will communicate more completely in text than they will verbally.
We manage the discussion in an online group much the same as in a traditional group. However, questions are shorter and more precise, and the discussion is faster and is managed with two moderators. We use online software from Inside Heads for our groups; this organization was one of the pioneers in developing the tool.
Online focus groups are best if you:
- Have groups of participants that would be difficult to bring to one central location
- Want to engage younger respondents
- Want immediate results; transcripts are available at the end of the group
- Strive to eliminate the cost of client and moderator travel