A focus group is one of the best ways to discover whether your products or marketing strategies are attractive to your customers. Creating a focus group is not easy and there are many opportunities for the data collected to be inaccurate or misleading.

With a clear strategy you can gain important insights into how your target market might engage with your marketing and product. Then you can make adjustments to maximise returns.

Learn more about focus groups and how you can run them to improve the chances of your business’ success in this article.

 

What Is A Focus Group?

A focus group is a market research tool used to discover the thoughts of a target market. Those attending the focus group are shown a product or a future marketing campaign and asked to give their opinions. These opinions are recorded by those who are running the event for analysis at a later date.

The usual size of a focus group is between 8 and 12 members. Research has shown that less than eight members will often return poor data.

It is recommended you arrange and run at least three or four focus groups. This is because different focus groups may have different opinions. Collecting more than one sample will allow you to gain a more complete picture of how the market will respond.

 

Why Is Using A Focus Group So Important?

Focus groups are great for determining the un-biased opinion of your target market. It can support all levels of your product development. Some companies use groups to show them existing products on the market to determine what they believe could be done better. Then these companies go away and design a product; taking into account the main points of the focus group.

After this, the company can go back to the focus groups and ask for opinions on the new product. These opinions can then be incorporated into the product so it is better aligned to the needs of the target audience.

In this function, the focus group can be very useful. While you may understand and think you know exactly how your product works, consumers may find faults. There is also the possibility there are elements, which previous focus groups had not thought of, or the design that matched their previous requirements has created unexpected issues.

Another use of focus groups is for businesses to show their marketing materials. Focus groups in this aspect can be very useful. For marketing campaigns to return the best results, the materials have to be aligned to the target audience so encourage interaction and engagement.

 

What Problems Could There Be With Running A Focus Group?

Focus groups are not perfect and they can give poor results. This can lead you down the wrong route should you not put into place measures to ensure accurate results.

One of the major problems with focus groups is if there is not enough of a cross section of your target audience. This is common if the group size is too small or only one focus group is used. Improve the accuracy of the focus groups by having at least 24 individuals in three different groups.

Another major problem is how the groups are made up. Many businesses collect participants for a focus group without considering if attendees are part of their target market. Create a checklist of all the characteristics of your target market and ensure each attendee fits that demographical profile.

Finally, a problem can occur with the personalities of your attendees. If there is a dominant personality within the group they can dictate the opinions of others. Research demonstrates a group will often conform to a dominant member, even if they know what is being said is inaccurate.

This can be overcome with a couple of counter measures. Having multiple groups allow you to take a consensus which is more accurate. You can also swap the members of groups around to see what people say in the presence of a different group.

 

How To Run A Successful Focus Group

Running a successful focus group takes significant effort and preparation. Here is a step by step guide on how to run a successful group.

Step One – Make a casting call to collect participants for your focus group. Look to collect individuals who are part of your target audience. For each person who says they are willing to participate do a quick check to ensure they belong to your target audience. Split the individuals into groups and set a time and date for the focus group to occur.

Step Two – Select a good location for the focus group. It should be somewhere easy to access for your participants and for you. You should also consider the size and privacy of the location. Once you have selected a location you should inform all your participants.

Step Three – Select a host for the focus group. The perfect host will be someone who is experienced in controlling and maintaining the concentration of a group. Those with teaching experience are particularly good in this role.

Step Four – Conduct your focus groups. During the focus group have your host control the direction of the discussion to ensure it remains on topic and have another person take copious notes. It is often best if you also record the sessions so you can go back afterwards to ensure you have not missed anything.

 

Conclusion

A focus group is an effective business tool for discovering what your audience thinks of your product or marketing strategy. These results can then be used to optimise your strategy and return the best results. However, there are important steps to ensure the focus groups are accurate, namely having the right number of participants and groups to ensure accurate results.

 

Action Steps:

  • Create marketing materials for your next business exposure campaign.
  • Set up three focus groups to gain the opinions of your target audience.
  • Gather the results and adjust your marketing campaign.

Jake Burdess

Director at Aflua
This post is by Jake Burdess, the founder of Aflua and HEROIC. Jake is an English designer who lives in New Zealand with his wife and three kids.

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