Focus groups - An introduction


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Focus groups - An introduction

  1. 1. Brand coaching & Marketing research management M O R A W S K I Marketing research methodologies and tools Focus groups – An introduction
  2. 2. <ul><ul><li>Some definitions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Purposes of focus groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Types of focus groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Techniques used in focus groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advantages/strengths </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disadvantages/weaknesses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key role of the moderator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some “do’s” for clients in charge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusions and recommendations </li></ul></ul>Contents
  3. 3. “ A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, a service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging” (Henderson, Naomi R., 2009) “ A focus group is a group of individuals selected and assembled by researchers to discuss and comment on, from personal experience, the topic that is the subject of the research” (Powell et al, 1996) “ Focus groups are a form of group interviewing but it is important to distinguish between the two. Group interviewing involves interviewing a number of people at the same time, the emphasis being on questions and responses between the researcher and participants. Focus groups however rely on interaction within the group based on topics that are supplied by the researcher” (Morgan, 1997) “…” 1. Some definitions
  4. 4. 2. Purposes of focus groups <ul><ul><li>Exploring respondents’ behavior, experiences, ideas, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, feelings, and reactions in a social setting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generating hypotheses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding common language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revealing group dynamism and norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brainstorming (product-ideas/concepts, communication-ideas/concepts, …) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing questions or concepts for questionnaires </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Early prototyping </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. 3. Types of focus groups <ul><ul><li>Single focus groups : the classical type of a focus group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two-way focus groups : each focus group alternatively watches the other group and discusses their observations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dual moderator focus groups : one moderator leads the session and the other takes care for covering all topics and ensures relevant evolutions in the discussion are explored further </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dueling moderator focus group : two moderators take opposite positions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respondent moderator focus group : one of the respondents act as the moderator temporarily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other participants focus groups : one or more of the client representatives (client, copy writer, designer, creative, …) participate (temporarily) in the discussion (as group member or moderator) (covertly or overtly) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mini focus groups : groups of four or five members instead of 6 to 12 members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teleconference focus groups : via a telephone network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online focus groups : via chat rooms </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 4. Techniques used in focus groups <ul><ul><li>Direct open questioning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Projective techniques : role-playing (lovers, haters, users, non users, …); mood boards; psycho drawing, associations (planet, island, person, animal, …), photo sort, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sub grouping : creating subgroups, let them work independently, and afterwards confront them with the output and ask for reactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-administered questioning : forcing the respondents to take an individual independent position before throwing it in the group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check lists : confronting respondents with item lists of brand characteristics, personality traits, benefits, … (carefully timed during the focus group in order give room for spontaneous reactions and answering) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confrontation with stimulus material : products, packaging, advertising, promotional material, ideas, concepts (verbal, visual) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. 5. Advantages/strengths of focus groups <ul><ul><li>Less expensive than some other research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fast way of gathering a lot of insights </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social interaction effects, group processes, learning process effects (but in an artificial set-up!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction between consumer/customer and client </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Group dynamic stimulates conversation, reactions </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. 6. Disadvantages/weaknesses of focus groups <ul><ul><li>Less control over the data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No generalization of findings to the whole population (it’s qualitative research with small numbers, no representative nor ad random sampling) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gives not the individual’s authentic point of view </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Influence of the researcher on the results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Polarizing (taking more extreme positions) and/or amplifying (want to please each other and or the moderator) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Excessive optimism encouraging risk-taking (risk is shared by the group members, so less vulnerable) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Effect of the most dominant (character, experience, commitment) respondent(s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consensus searching , searching for one single solution (strived for by respondents and/or the moderator and/or the client) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self censorship of idea’s/reactions against opposite idea’s/reactions of other group members (social pression, conflict avoiding) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incapacity to register (and react on) all the verbal and non-verbal (body language, silence) information </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. 7. Key role of the moderator <ul><ul><li>A good moderator is able to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>understand fully the research objectives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>make feel respondents at ease </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>build trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>listen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>be alert </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>be flexible (without loosing focus) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>show sensitivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>observe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>be attentive for non verbal behavior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>link reactions together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>encourage participation of each respondent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>facilitate/stimulate interaction between respondents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>challenge group members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>keep control over the converstion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>probe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>synthesize </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. 8. Some “do’s” for clients in charge <ul><ul><li>Decide to use focus groups only for the right purpose(s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take and keep control on all the stages of the process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sampling : when too heterogeneous groups: the differences between participants can make a considerable impact on their contributions; when too homogenous groups with regard to specific characteristics: diverse opinions and experiences may not be revealed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interview guide/checklist : focus on the research issue while leaving room for spontaneous reactions and new openings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recruitment : check method of recruitment, control respondent’s sample characteristics before starting the focus groups </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fieldwork : debriefing session especially after the first focus group to maximize its usefulness (additional information needed, issues that need clarification, particular questions that did not work well and why, any information that contradicts or confirms data collected in previous sessions, new topics that arose during the focus group, provide the moderator and note-taker a forum for giving constructive feedback) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis : ask the research agency how the data will be organized and interpreted </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reporting : background information, executive summary, key findings (with verbatim quotes), conclusions, recommendations and next steps </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Focus group interviews do not generate quantitative information. The results strictly speaking should not be generalized or &quot;projected&quot; to a larger population. The results of focus groups should be used as a basis for for further evaluation and user validation using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Never use focus groups as a stand alone research method!!!! 9. Conclusion and recommendation
  12. 12. “ It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail” (“The psychology of science: a reconnaissance.”, Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1966.)
  13. 13. John Morawski Brand coaching & Marketing research management Rogery 55 6671 Bovigny Belgium GSM +32 (0)477 62 18 75 E-mail: [email_address] Blog of John Morawski