A research group or focus group is simply a group of deliberately chosen individuals who participate in facilitated discussions to acquire relevant information about consumer perceptions regarding a specific area or topic of interest. Market research groups are carefully guided discussions with target audiences led by professional facilitators or moderators. The participants in a research group are chosen based on predetermined criteria. 

How market research groups work

Generally, market research groups are designed to identify consumers’ perceptions, feelings, and thoughts regarding a particular service, solution, or product. The initial step in creating a market research group is to define the goals and the purpose of the group clearly – create well considered research objectives. You must know the topic of the discussion and what that discussion session intends to achieve.

Next, you will want to clearly define the demographic that could help you achieve your research objectives. Having a clearly defined goal makes it much easier to select participants that are best qualified to partake in the market research group. This may be in the form of key demographics, or would be based on what consumers do or purchase.  Note that market research group discussions are held in an environment that is receptive and non-threatening. Think of it as a welcoming home to have a fun and comfortable chat. Unlike interviews which often occur with an individual, a market research group allows the members to interact and influence each other, particularly during the discussion and ideation.

The line of questioning implemented in market research groups is referred to as questioning route, protocol, or interview guide. This questioning approach is designed with the research objectives in mind and usually follows a logical sequence that mimics a natural exchange. The primary aim of a market research group is to reach a consensus or some level of agreement. It can also involve deciding what to do about an issue or something. Remember, the discussion guide should resonate with the research topic, objectives, hypothesis, research design, and the overall scope of your research.

What are the benefits of market research groups?

Market research groups are valuable because often, we know what consumers do, but we don’t understand why they do it. Focus groups and other qualitative research allows you the opportunity to interact and have discussions with people to better understand opportunity areas for development.  Each piece of research provides different kinds of important information. Surveys are perceived as scientific and intended to collect quantitative data. They help us to quantify what a larger number of people do. Focus groups, blogs, in-depth discussions all help the research to better understand the “why” – why do people do what they do? 

Just as in the dynamics of a consumer’s real-life, the focus group research participants can interact, influence, and be influenced by others. This tool is particular helpful in the type of research where it is desirable to have consumers build on each others’ ideas. It is less ideal in some situations where the objective is too quantify how many people like or dislike a specific idea. In the end, market research could help your organization make informed choices, particularly those targeting customer experience about certain products or services.

Note that market research groups have a distinct benefit over other research approaches. This is because they are very flexible by design. The facilitators can listen to the participants’ tone and see their body language. These are some of the important aspects that can tell the researchers more about the consumer’s true feelings, perceptions, and overall knowledge about a particular brand. 

It is essential to mention that market research groups must be moderated by a professional. The moderator acts as a proxy for the decision-makers and must capitalize on their ability to talk to the customers directly.

If you have any questions about market research groups or are ready to get started on your market research group, contact us today