There are several methods that can be helpful in analyzing focus group results. They include effectively organizing responses, developing an understanding of the responders, and observing all forms of communication used in the group session. While it can help to have a previously established goal when analyzing data, it is usually beneficial to also be open to new themes and unexpected trends.
Thorough analysis of focus group results usually starts with the way the information gathered is organized. A transcript from a typical two- to four-hour group can consist of dozens of pages. One way to manage the information is to establish categories for the major areas of focus and then organize the results under these titles. While some of these categories may be drawn from questions posed to the group or from previously determined themes, there can also be new categories that present themselves as a result of the discussion.
Once the focus group results have been categorized, the information is usually more manageable. Responses can be explored within, among, and across different categories. Themes may arise that apply to many categories at once.
One of the major keys to effectively analyzing focus group results is to attempt to understand each of the participants and their motivations. A comment will develop more meaning when more is understood about the speaker’s background. This can include gender, economic status, education, and nationality.
It is also wise to consider both verbal and nonverbal cues when analyzing focus group results. There are several ways that considering both forms of communication can be useful. If what the individual is saying seems to clash with that person’s body language, then it is possible that person is not speaking truthfully. It can also be helpful to observe the non-verbal cues of the group when they are not speaking. This can be a good way to determine how each participant appears to feel about the topic at hand and whether they are interested in the proceedings or more detached.
Once data has been collected, organized, and analyzed, it is usually compiled into a final report. This document can be organized by question or category, depending upon the needs of the party that has conducted the focus group. While the answers given by the group may answer the questions that led to the session, it is also possible that further analysis of the responses will be required.