If you work in market research, or for an ad agency, you’ve likely heard the term, “affinity groups”, “affinity focus groups”, or “affinity research”. While there are subtle differences between these terms, they all share qualitative research at their core, and seek to understand how people who are linked either by friendship, professional networks, or family ties, influence each other’s purchasing behavior.
Why not just conduct a Focus Group?
Focus groups are great for understanding the how, why, and what of people’s behavior. Affinity research gives moderators the opportunity to see how people’s behavior might be influenced by social or familial ties. Learning how people are influenced by strong and weak social ties can have a huge impact on brands. Knowing who holds more ‘sway’ within a household might compel brands to tailor their marketing efforts toward women over men, or vice versa.
Recruiting for Affinity Focus Groups
When we recruit participants for an affinity-related study, we often recruit one person who fits the key demographic and psychographic criteria and then ask that person to invite a few of their friends, or partner, or children to participate too. The subject and focus of the study will determine who within an affinity group qualifies.
Conducting an affinity focus group is a bit different than a non-affinity focus group in that the moderator needs to be trained to see how participants might influence each other when it comes to brand awareness, brand selection, or brand purchasing. The moderator can kickstart different conversations and take note about how the participants interact and identify patterns between affinity groups.
Affinity Focus Groups are GREAT for Businesses
Not only are affinity focus groups great for consumer research, they are invaluable for businesses seeking to understand how teams influence each other. Perhaps you’re wanting to identify how teams interact with a new software feature or tool. An affinity focus group would help identify how teams discuss the new feature or tool between themselves; how they help each other learn the new product; what workarounds they’ve come up with; or simply, how a new tool causes disruptions to older patterns and habits.
Recruiting for a business-related affinity study is sometimes easier than consumer studies because a manager will sometimes assist the recruiter and get team members excited about participating.
Whether you’re conducting a consumer or business study, affinity studies are great at identifying group dynamics and gaining deeper understanding of how affinity groups discuss concepts or products, and who the influencers might be within social networks.