Ask most laypeople to talk about market research and they are likely to skip over discussions about weighting, response fatigue, feasibility and conjoint analysis techniques and instead turn immediately to surveys and focus groups. Both are so ingrained in the public’s notion of what it means to study a market that exploration of additional research methodologies is rarely considered necessary by anyone other than professional market researchers. And between the two, the mighty focus group often surpasses the survey as the image most people conjure up when they are asked what “market research” means: don’t you visualize a group of people talking about a product when you stop and think about what market researchers do?
In reality, however, focus groups are far more than the image many members of the general population picture in their heads. Yes, they might entail a group of 8-12 people talking a product with a moderator for an hour or two, but the specifics surrounding that discussion can (and do!) vary according to the type of business and research objective involved. Take a look at the different types of focus groups:
Single Focus Group
This is what most people think about when asked about focus groups. It involves a single moderator asking questions and organically discussing a topic with a small group of respondents.
Mini Focus Group
In contrast to other types of focus groups, a mini focus group has only four or five respondents. A smaller group of people creates a more intimate environment for discussion and is particularly appropriate for sensitive issues.
Two-Way Focus Group
With this format, two focus groups (each with its own moderator) are formed with one group’s members observing the other group’s members as they answer questions and interact with one another. This can lead the observing group to additional insights.
Dual Moderator Focus Group
Two moderators collaborate in this type of focus group. One moderator is in charge of asking the questions and the other makes sure the questions are answered. It is easier for a single moderator to get distracted; having two moderators helps ensure that participants stay on task with their discussion.
Dueling Moderator Focus Group
Also with two moderators, this kind of focus group pits one moderator against another to explore opposing sides of an issue. By supporting alternate viewpoints, moderators can introduce discussion points that lead respondents to consider and draw new conclusions, prompting additional insight.
Respondent Moderator Focus Group
In order to limit unintentional bias, one or more of the focus group respondents temporarily assumes the role of moderator, asking questions of the group’s other members. Sharing the moderator role helps encourage different reactions from each respondent, thus enriching the information ultimately gleaned.
Remote Focus Group
Using a teleconference or online format, a remote focus group can gather participants from locations that might otherwise be restricted. While this type of focus group is not as revealing as a face-to-face encounter because members are not able to respond to body language and communication tone, it can provide an opportunity for anonymity that appeals to some types of respondents. This makes it a good option for companies wanting to explore more personal topics or that have limited time and money to spend on the more in-depth focus group techniques.
Need More Information?
There are many different types of focus groups. And despite the fact that we often associate market research with focus group research, the two are not always interchangeable. The key to quality market research is knowing when (or when not) to use focus groups. If you need help determining when and how to use the different types of focus groups, contact our team at Communications for Research (CFR). We know how to get companies the insights they need for enhanced business success.