As the global population continue to be steadily, speedily and relentlessly consumed by the influence of technology, Market Researchers have enormous opportunity to use these platforms creatively to gain insights about their consumers.
However, the debate has long raged that face to face focus groups may no longer be as relevant in this new world. THN feel though that online studies should not be viewed as a substitute for in person discussions, and instead that each method of group interviewing has its own unique capabilities and advantages.
Perhaps a more appropriate perspective would be to consider face-to-face and online focus groups as complementary research methods.
While marketers, researchers and brand managers live and breathe their brands and understand their own worlds like no others, they don’t necessarily “walk in the shoes” of those who purchase their products or utilise their services.
The advantage of having your carefully recruited target respondent sitting captive in front of you, face to face, voice to voice for several hours allows one to study body & behavioural actions and engage directly giving unique insight in to the needs and emotions of consumers. If we can understand what drives their purchasing behaviour we are well on the way to unlocking the pot of gold!
Every day THN Project Managers recruit many respondents for face to face groups to meet our clients’ requirements so we’ve gathered some “top tips” from the team to help ensure you get the most out of your groups.
Make homework tasks as well described and user friendly as possible.
If a homework task is to be included in the research making it as simple to complete as possible aids participants to submit it on time and as required – remember not all respondents have a lot of computer or technical literacy or access to printers etc. If the homework is to be completed AFTER the group, it’s always a good idea to have the moderator explainthe task/s in depth at the end of the focus group. An example of the clients’ expectations is also always helpful.
Educate your participants.
Having the respondents understand, even vaguely, why the research is taking place from the start seems to produce higher attendance levels and better engagement. Participants are not just there to sit in the room for an hour and get their money, they are there to influence the decision-making process of a major company and they appreciate being understood & having the importance of their contributions valued.
Know the people you’re targeting.
Apart from the obvious (CASH incentive), suitable start times for the demographic we are looking for has always produced good results, i.e. 10am groups for stay-at-home parents who would normally find it hard to attend a group from 3pm onwards or evening group for full-time workers that would struggle to make it for a daily session.
Keep to the schedule.
Of course, sessions starting and finishing on time and as promised are always very well noted with respondents and funnily enough something as small as having refreshments included where possible is always mentioned as an added bonus in feedback
Hold the groups in different venues or in a different way to the ‘norm’.
We’ve seen positive feedback of late with quite a few THN Facebook ratings and comments (with 5-stars) mentioning their group was held in an enjoyable location (pub, zoo, notable head office, retail store etc). Spicing things up and taking them to the (often perfectly matched) source seems to spark their interest & involvement even further and leaves them with positive things to say about THN, the client and also the venue/product and or service itself.
Chose your moderator purposefully.
We see ample comments of recognition and praise go to engaged, welcoming & organised moderators and the difference it makes in the session. Involving everyone evenly ensures all participants have the chance to voice their opinions and also feel they are genuinely considered and valued.