Four Essential Questions to Ask Before Conducting Focus Groups
When qualitative research consultants design market research studies, it is likely to include focus groups. While there are a number of other research methodologies that can be utilized, focus groups remain popular. Deciding to include focus groups in a study is the easy part, but focus groups won’t be successful if some thought isn’t first given to a number of questions. Four essential questions that need to be considered before conducting focus groups include:
- What is the overall budget for the market research study? This question informs the researcher about how many focus groups can be included in the study. If the budget is small, a lot more consideration needs to be given on who is invited to participate. You want to extract the most meaningful information from fewer people, so considerable thought needs to go into recruitment efforts. With more ample budgets, researchers can conduct enough focus groups to be more holistically representative
- Who should be invited to participate in a focus group? When recruiting for focus groups, the aim is to find participants whose backgrounds, interests, or professions best match the subject matter being studied.
- How many people should participate? Professional moderators aim to have between 6-10 participants in a focus group, with 7 being ideal. Too small a group and participants feel self-conscious. Too large a group, and participants don’t have enough time to share deeper insights. Keep in mind that you should recruit extra participants so that last-minute substitutions can be made.
- How will you incentivize participants? It is near impossible to get participants to commit without incentivizing recruits.
Answering these questions upfront will make recruitment a much smoother process. At this point, the researcher may decide to hire a nationwide recruitment agency. Reputable market research recruiting firms have proven track records of not only finding the right people, but managing them throughout the study, thus freeing up valuable time and mental space for the research consultant.
Focus groups work best when there is homogeneity between participants. There are no hard-and-fast rules around this, but experience will inform researchers about the type of participants and context so they can create screening guides that are used when recruiting.
As you can see, a lot of preparation goes into market research studies. Working with qualitative research firms and market research recruitment agencies is your best bet to ensuring successful outcomes with your market research.