It’s often easy for today’s market researcher to forget the value of human connection. With the rise of the Internet, and social media especially, researchers (and the businesses that hire them) can be lured into thinking that digital engagement is a suitable substitute for personal interaction. But quality market research focuses on a range of data from a range of sources. Focus groups can be great ways to garner meaningful and applicable qualitative information directly from the source – the consumer. Discussing products, trends and impressions face-to-face with those people most impacted by your business will enable you to make better decisions, thereby improving your bottom line. It’s important, then, to make sure you’re following focus group best practices when recruiting your next focus group; take a look at our top four guiding principles:
“If You Fail to Plan, You are Planning to Fail” – Benjamin Franklin
It should go without saying – but just in case, we’ll say it again – You can’t research anything without first having a plan. Specifically, you need to start with a question. Pick one before you start recruiting your focus group participants. Do you need to know why someone would buy your product or service? Do you want help determining how to improve customer service? Whatever it is, you need a firm grasp on what you’re trying to uncover before you can begin to pick the people you want to help you with it. For example, if you’re wondering why people aren’t using your goods, recruiting current consumers for their opinions isn’t going to tell you much.
You will also need a plan for communicating with your focus group once you organize it. No one appreciates being asked to do something only to discover that they have been misinformed or, worse, that they are being neglected. Make sure you know how and when you will be contacting your recruits so that they understand the full extent of the project.
Less is More
Focus group best practices dictate 8 to 12 people for ideal discussion. Less really is more. Just make sure you don’t have too small of a group. Too many opinions confuse the issue, while too few offer limited scope.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
Similar to the above practice, choosing the right respondents over the amount of them should be your goal. Develop a qualifying questionnaire to help you screen potential focus group participants based on topic knowledge, past focus group experience or specific demographics. This ensures that your resultant focus group accurately represents those best suited to talk about your product or service.
Finally, a small gift can go a long way in making someone feel valued. Cash incentives or other rewards for participation show your appreciation for your focus group’s time, effort and experience. It makes your participants feel valued. And feeling valued can mean each person is more likely to be an engaged and motivated participant in your research project.
Ben Franklin knew that a good plan is the first step to avoiding failure. We do, too. Communications for Research has 20 years experience in the market research industry. Contact us to learn how we can help you plan for and recruit your next focus group!