Focus group marketing research is a method companies use to assess the general perception of products through consumer studies. A proper focus group uses a wide number of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and demographics. This allows the company to obtain specific information regarding consumer views. This process is more qualitative in nature as companies rarely receive any feedback they can measure using mathematical statistics. Keys to remember in focus group marketing research include limiting rules, creating flexible groups, focusing on words, and keeping the group in a social, not individual, environment.
Creating too many rules for focus group research can result in tainted outcomes. The company or its consultants may be focused on the rules rather than obtaining actual results. Rules can also delimit the focus group into a small group that winds up not providing enough insight into customer views. Only basic rules should apply, such as date, time, and length of the focus group process. Otherwise, rules should not have a heavy presentation.
Flexibility is essential when using focus group marketing research. Companies may provide participants with a few basic questions and then allow for the conversation to move from there. A relaxed environment allows individuals to talk freely and bring up many different aspects of the topic. Negative comments are acceptable so long as they do not attack other participants in the focus group. The purpose of the group is to provide the company an honest look into the thoughts and beliefs of consumers on certain products.
Companies need to create an environment that focuses on the words spoken during focus group research. For example, a company may desire to record the conversation. Forms and other paperwork may be a part of the process that allows the company to have written assessments on the thoughts of each participant. This gives the company a written record of the process so they can refer back to the focus group notes. A legal release from each participant may be necessary to complete this process properly.
A final reminder for focus group marketing research is to keep the environment socially relevant. A semipublic environment can help the participants feel at ease and allow for the most honest responses. A company may also consider holding the focus group at a neutral location, such as a conference center or a hotel. This way, the company provides a more open environment and creates a better environment for getting truthful answers.