5 ways to give your focus group a makeover!
A focus group, no matter how intricately you’ve planned it, will only work with the right participants. If you have the wrong people—or run the group poorly—you’ll see all your hard work go to waste. Follow these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to better and more actionable focus group results.
Don’t squeeze on recruitment time!
This is where putting in the time will pay off. If you recruit the wrong people to your focus group, your resultant data will be of a poor quality. Your respondents should be interested and well-versed in the topic at hand. Their personalities should match the specific profile you have in mind. Don’t rush into the group just to reach a quota and hope for the best. Take your time screening applicants and ensure that people are who they say they are. It might take a bit more time, but your job will be easier in the long run as you’ll have a sound starting point for your market research.
Use an experienced moderator
The moderator is the ship’s captain. He or she is the person that makes sure the group is being led through the process efficiently. Moderators are timekeepers, listeners and unbiased overseers. They should not influence participant responses, but rather encourage creative thinking. They keep the sessions informal, comfortable and engaging. Poor moderation will lead to unusable information and will generally leave the participants with a sour taste in their mouths as the session degenerates into a boring and unpleasant experience. For more information, check out our top moderating tips for group discussions.
Avoid social awkwardness
At the end of the day, you are putting a group of strangers into the same room and asking them to become a kind of think tank. The problem is, people tend to be a bit uncomfortable in new situations. As such, you need to have some sort of ice-breaker to get the conversation rolling and gain insight into the personality of each focus group member. A group that feels comfortable around each other will be more likely to respond positively to your queries. Examples of icebreakers include having the group introduce themselves to each other using a fun anecdote or starting off with a quick game that isn’t necessarily linked to the research subject, like charades.
Make the sessions interactive
What’s the point in assembling the right group of people if they are bored, just going through the motions and eager to wrap things up as quickly as possible so they can go home? This won’t yield any ground-breaking new insights into your target market, just common platitudes. Making your focus group interactive will help engage participants, regardless of the demographic. If they feel intrigued by the processes, they’ll rise to the challenge and enjoy doing so. Only then will you receive interesting feedback and meet your qualitative market research goals. There are many ways to increase interactivity in a group:
- Let them voice opinion in novel and physical ways, such as voting with stickers or using the room as a mind map.
- Organise role-playing scenarios to let them get into the right mindset.
- Have your group engage in rapid-fire discussions, keeping them on their toes.
Basically, any form of game or activity that encourages participation and out-of-the-box thinking.
Organise a facilitator
Having a facilitator present that takes over duties like taking notes, registering attendance and arrival of respondents, setting up activities or even doing simple tasks like getting refreshments is a must. It frees up time for the moderator to do their work and optimises the dialogue with the group to ensure top-notch qualitative market research results.
These are just a few ideas to help you maximise the output of your respondents. For more information, download your free guide for getting the best participants for your group discussions.