Focus Group Research
Since focus groups were developed in the 1940s, they have been used to study a wide range of topics. They produce “qualitative” data in the form of participant attitudes, opinions, judgements and so on, as opposed to “quantitative” or numeric.statistical data. Focus groups have been used for everything from determining the effectiveness of medical marketing materials to anticipating probable community response to public policy changes.
PROFESSIONAL MODERATION: Moderator skill contributes directly to focus group data quality. At Matrix we provide professional moderation of both traditional, face to face focus groups and Internet enabled teleweb groups. Our moderators have advanced degrees and a solid understanding of human behavior. We have conducted focus group research for a wide range of client organizations.
PROJECT DESIGN: A good focus group is not simply a group of people discussing something. Thoughtful and careful design of focus group projects is imperative. We work closely with our clients to blueprint the project, specify and refine research questions and design the moderator’s guide. We can recruit participants or rely on a pool of suitable individuals provided by you and we can conduct the groups at any suitable facility.
CONFIDENCE: Some clients need to be confident that focus group results truly represent a larger population of individuals. All aspects of focus group design, from selection & recruitment to data analysis, must be done correctly in order for results to be generalized back to the participants’ parent population. If the research is not designed well, it will be invalid to apply focus group results to a larger group.
WHY USE FOCUS GROUPS? The intention of focus groups is to gather qualitative data from one or more populations of selected participants. Professionally designed and moderated focus groups generate powerful and actionable qualitative results. They are flexible and unique as a means of understanding people’s motivations and responses. The range of subjective data that can be studied in focus groups is broad and includes opinions, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, behavioral predictions and self reports. Focus groups have also been effectively used to determine public opinion responses to policy and retail products. They offer the client or researcher deeper, more personal and precise insights into the question at hand.
- They may be used in advance of quantitative studies to gain information used to help guide the design and content of the qualitative studies.
- Focus groups may also be used as a follow up statistical or mathematical methods to help clarify, understand and elaborate on quantitative research data.
Both traditional and teleweb focus groups can be used in a range of applications:
- Generation of qualitative data as a freestanding outcome, or as part of a broader research project.
- Gathering qualitative data for use in selecting research hypotheses for subsequent quantitative research.
- Study of product development and preferences, values, attitudes, political images and issues, institutions, services, programs and motivation.
- Selecting, designing or improving quantitative research tools.
- Elaborating and clarifying results of quantitative studies, particularly if these results are confusing.
- Further study and clarification of survey research data in order to maximize extraction of all available information
- Assessing the projected response of a target audience to a new program, service or product before investing fully in delivery.
- After the fact impact studies of programs, systems or organizational processes on groups or subgroups.
Traditional and teleweb focus groups both yield richer data than that available from individual interviews, and each has its own advantages. Cost, location, time factors, participant availability and technological sophistication and importance of the “personal touch” all need to be considered when choosing the most appropriate venue.