The focus group method is a qualitative market research method and is excellent when you do not only want to know what people think but rather why they think the way they do. Since you talk to fewer people in qualitative research than in quantitative, and since you have exploratory discussions rather than everybody being asked the same questions, qualitative surveys do not provide too many numbers but rather provide a greater understanding of needs, desires, feelings and ideas, which is valuable in many contexts.
A focus group forum may be chosen in order to gain an understanding of the users’ reasoning around important features and also to get hands on information on how the users handle e.g. prototypes and what they think about them, both in general and in comparison with the product currently used. Table charts can illustrate the results from the individual tasks during the group discussions, however these tables do not necessarily show statistically significant results and should be seen as illustrations of the discussions.
When should Focus Groups as method be used and how can it add value?
For testing a new product or concept: To see if there is a demand for such a product, concept, service, idea or packaging in the market; to find out how well received the new product/new product features would be in the market and what kind of segments/customers it would it be suitable for; or to investigate whether the new product/concept fulfills the expectations
For demonstrating a prototype for participants: Provide an opportunity for users to see and touch the (new) product or the opportunity to show prototypes/samples vs benchmark product to compare with in order to find out about preferences.
For testing a new form of packaging: Having an appealing, practical and safe package for the product is important. Focus groups provide a good setting for presenting the design of a package for a group of users and get feedback on the functionality and quality properties. Product packaging is still an important tool in the marketing mix. Based on feedback from users in focus groups, the correct, most appealing and functional package can be developed.
For positioning: Feedback from focus groups can bring valuable input when it comes to the positioning of a product or service. Should e.g. a new pain killer be positioned based on a) its quick effect or b) its efficiency when it comes to getting rid of severe pain or c) its long-term effect or d) that it is gentle on the stomach? A focus group can offer useful input on those kinds of questions.
For evaluating advertising and other sales support material: Focus groups may be used to test the reaction and attitude towards advertising or sales material. Presenting the material to the actual target group, you can find out if the content is easy to understand, credible and unique in comparison to how other companies communicate about their products.
But not the least, it can be an important tool for concept modification; using qualitative feedback to make necessary changes and modifications of a basically good concept, turning it to a truly winning one!
Why should Opticom be contracted when conducting a focus group project?
Opticom has wide and broad experience from conducting international market research including focus groups. We have the ability to determine whether using focus groups is the right way to go or if another method would be more appropriate for the research purpose.
Opticom has in-house resources and competence. We know how to ask questions and create discussion guides in order to get the answers and information that is needed. We have experienced moderators who can conduct focus groups in a wide range of languages. Having the right moderator is the most important factor for successful focus groups and for getting the most out of them. Our moderators have the skills to get input from all participants, not influence the group in any way, avoid certain participants taking too much space in the group or taking over the discussion, etc.
Last but not least, Opticom has the ability to interpret the results in a way that can lead to solutions for the issues that have been up for discussion and we can build on our industry experience to put matters in perspective.