When done correctly, there are few better indicators for accurate market analysis than professionally run product focus groups. In a way, professionally run product focus groups are like small sample surveys. They test the reactions of your potential target customer base on a wide range of reactions and opinions. Business educator, Dr. Gigi DeVault defines a focus group as a gathering of deliberately selected people who participate in a planned discussion to get consumer perceptions of products or other matters in a non-threatening and receptive environment. Focus groups have an advantage over just using individual interviews to elicit opinions because focus groups allow members of the group to interact and influence each other to come to a consensus when considering ideas and perspectives.
Focus Groups as Opinion Measures.
Professionally run product focus groups are a natural form to evaluate consumer reactions and opinions. The format of a focus group mimics a conversation in a group of peers discussing a particular topic or product they have had access to. The output of the focus group is usually a record of a conversation which can be content-analyzed to extract consistent opinions or assess the range of opinion.
Many product developers view the advantages of focus groups as largely economic, thinking they are less expensive than large-scale studies. They also generate the kinds of statements that can be recorded and quoted in advertising and public relations campaigns. It is possible that many focus groups that are not professionally and carefully run may have those advantages but miss the real value of the professionally run focus group in evaluating the opinions of potential customers.
Professionally Run Focus Groups Are Fexible
Professionally run product focus groups are flexible by design. They produce results that are qualitative and in-depth, rather than quantitative but superficial, like surveys. When participants are carefully selected, the focus group enables decision-makers to talk directly to customers or potential customers and capitalize on their knowledge of relevant brands, products, or services. The selection of the moderator is very important in running focus groups. A good professional moderator prepares well in order to stand in as a proxy for the decision-maker to hear the reactions and concerns of the focus group panel.
Professionally Run Focus Groups Are Accurate
Professionally run product focus groups are better equipped to avoid distractions and annoyances that destroy or bias the direction of the discussion. If focus group participants are annoyed or intimidated by the structure of the group or the way the moderator works with them, they may withdraw from describing their deeper perceptions and feelings and fail to reflect their real opinions about your topic. Participants must feel comfortable enough to interact openly. Things like the rank or status of participants must be compatible so that individuals in the group do not monopolize or control the conversation. Moderators must follow a logical progression that feels like a natural conversational exchange. Moderators have to ensure that all participants contribute as equally as possible and participate fully in the give and take of the discussion.
Professionally Run Focus Groups Identify Consensus
Focus groups are conducted in a series in which the participants vary, but the area of discussion is the same. By using a series, you increase the number of voices to a level that reaches statistical meaningfulness and may mask out the effects of environmental variables that could bias the results. The individual focus groups in the series work best when the number of participants is small. The smaller groups yield deeper and responses and increase the ability of moderators and participants to probe for clarification of opinions. But, the purpose of a focus group is not to arrive at an absolute consensus and to make a decision about what to do about something. Focus groups are designed to identify the feelings, perceptions, and thoughts of consumers and to assess the range of opinions as well as the consensus of opinions.
New Perspectives believes in listening to the stated and unstated implications of what customers say to uncover what customers need to drive their purchase. That is what our professionally run focus groups can provide. Please contact New Perspectives to learn more about professionally run product focus groups.