Another method for collecting ideas and other valuable information is that of focus groups. In a focus group, a small number of individuals come together to discuss a common theme of interest. A moderator who ensures that the desired topics are addressed directs the meeting, which lasts approximately one to two hours. Discussions about ideas put forth by the participants are also held. 

 

The focus group is currently one of the most frequently used techniques in market research. It has proven to be highly productive in:

  1. Generating hypotheses that can then be proven quantitatively at a later date. 
  2. Generating information that aids in effectively structuring consumer questionnaires.
  3. Providing general important information about a product. 
  4. Uncovering impressions and concepts about a new product or service. 

 

Between eight and twelve people participate in the focus groups. If you reduce the number, you increase the possibility that a participant will dominate the group and, if there are more, you may be hard-pressed to keep their attention. The participants in a focus group are chosen so that the group is homogenous in character-that is, participants do not significantly differ as to educational, socioeconomic levels or their habits or perceptions about products. This homogeneity leads the participants to act in a less inhibited manner and therefore contribute more valuable information. With focus groups, in-depth information is collected on a variety of points-of-interest, thus assuring the client its customers are being well represented. Objectives are reached by carrying out normally between 4 and 8 groups with different types of participants. 

 

Objectives and Application 
The use of focus groups has proven to have one great advantage, which is that ideas flow spontaneously during the sessions. The opinion of one of the participants generates cross-fertilization. Quickly, the participants relax and offer objective and useful information. This happens because people feel more comfortable in this small and homogenous group atmosphere than if they were to have been questioned individually. 

 

The principal uses of focus groups 
Generation of hypotheses that later may be evaluated quantitatively.
New idea development for products or their introduction into the market.
Generation of information to prepare quantitative studies. In depth analyses of the motives, reasons and attitudes that determine consumer actions.
Evaluation of advertising concepts. 
The focus group technique has proven to be a highly useful tool for companies that need to ascertain what consumers really think about their goods and services.