Qualitative research methods are widely used in order to find out product design, customer expertise, customer needs, behavior and attitude, and to test products and concepts. Being an approved research method, focus group method has been applied since World War II.
About the research
Focus group is a research technique to collect information through group discussions on the selected topic. In fact, focus group method comprises the discussion of any topic, based on common expertise of a few thoroughly selected people.
Focus groups have four main components:
- It attracts people to active discussions.
- The people attending a group share a common expertise.
- It equips with a comprehensive quality data
- The discussion is focused on our understanding of what is happening
Traditionally speaking, focus groups are organized in a face-to-face environment by bringing all participants together in a certain period of time. However, the technological development has enabled online focus groups as well, and geographical distances are no longer a requirement for focus groups.
Typically, focus groups contain 5-10 individuals. A focus group should be small as it will enable all individuals to share their experiences, and should be large to ensure interaction and differences in experiences inside the group. Very large groups may hinder discussions, however a very small group may end up with a lack of idea. Depending on the topic, a group consisting of 6-8 individuals may be considered a normal size focus group.
The content and benefits of the research
Focus groups are used to find out and determine behaviors, attitudes and processes. In a research design, focus groups are used in three forms:
- As a sole method: Focus group acts as the one and the only data collection method of the research and core data source.
- As a complementary to the survey: Focus group acts as an alternative data source in this case. It is conducted prior to quantitative research and helps find out issues to be covered in systematic discussions.
- As a part of research design with multiple methods: A number of data collection methods are used and neither of them ascertains another’s usage.
Focus groups are highly beneficial for researching new products, testing new conceptions or the situations like “what will happen, if happened so...?”.
Typical fields of applications of focus groups
- To clarify a complex process by viewing it from the core elements. For example, clarification of complext purchase decisions.
- To determine customer needs
- To clarify how products are used
- To test new products
- Testing the concepts
- To discover the satisfaction issues of customers, staff and suppliers
- To find out brand perception and the service elements related to brands.