What is focus group? And why it is useful?

Obtaining information from prospective customers is one of the most challenging parts of market research. A focus group is a community you meet to discuss anything that is important to your business. They can help bring out lots of information that your target customers might hesitate to bring up, as well as give you valuable feedback. Such types of findings are hard to obtain online or through survey.

This conversation might be about something important to your company, whether you are analyzing their needs or getting feedback on a particular product or service. Here are other situations when a focus group can come in handy:

Needs analysis

If you are at an earlier stage of your company where your target audience is not very well known, a focus group will give you a good starting point for what their needs are.

Input regarding new products and services

Focus groups can also be used to get early feedback on new products and services. In these cases, it’s best to bring your focus group a prototype or review of your new products to test. This can help you spot problems and opportunities before your new products are released publicly.

Competitive analysis

A focus group can also help if you want to learn how your company compares with others. You may ask them to compare offerings, to find marketing materials where your opponent has the advantage.

Feedback on branding or marketing

testing new slogans or posters? A focus group can provide feedback on the marketing materials to which they are responding.

Filling holes in knowing your target market

Even if you feel that you really know your target market well, there may be decisions or habits that you won’t understand. Your customers might say they want a particular type of product¬†for example, but once you offer it, they don’t actually buy. A focus group will help you understand complex issues and such circumstances better.

Benefits of having focus group-

1. Verbal Communication

This is where the advantage of focus groups really lies. In way of comparison to online discussions or surveys which rely too much on written input, focus groups will allow you to peruse verbal communication. We are often unaware of the verbal expressions and attitudes that we exhibit, so it is no wonder that survey respondents are unable to include these in their written responses.

Through focus groups, you will be able to notice things like which objects or components capture the attention of the participants, which subjects they appear reluctant to explore, and which topics most excite them.

2. Open Discussions

Survey formats tend to be rather restrictive. Essay-type questions are usually difficult to assess, so most questions are multiple choice. On the other hand, focus group discussions tend to be opener. This helps you to uncover more insightful knowledge on what your clients need.

You can also ask as general or as specific questions as you wish. For example, if you set up a wedding planning company, you can start with a broad question like, “What is the most challenging part of your wedding planning?” Then, once the participants provide an answer, you may ask them to compare it with other challenges they have faced or to respond to the responses of others in the community.

Often, the discussion format makes it easy to collect follow-up information such as asking participants to explain an answer or elaborate a topic. Due to the open nature of focus group discussions, they eventually reveal information that is unlikely to be found in surveys and other market research approaches.

3. Getting Suggestions

Your focus group can provide you concrete suggestions. They’re in the best position to know which improvements to your product or service will boost the user experience.

 

Keep in mind that not all of their recommendations should be followed to the letter. Try to figure out the meaning behind the suggestion instead. As follow-up questions like “why do you think this change is going to be an improvement?” Or “How much would that change make user experience better?” Their responses will let you find out what the real issues are. You’ll also know if a suggestion is worth pursuing, or not.