What you’ll want to do is to have a general sense of how your target market will react to your new product, service, or business.
This is typically done by conducting extensive market research, with a key component being running a focus group.
In this article, we’ll define what a focus group is, give you an agenda to follow when conducting on, explain how to run a focus group step-by-step, and help you plan your questions with a focus group questionnaire.
What Is a Focus Group?
A focus group is a small group of people from your target market who you share ideas with and ask questions about your product, service, or business. The focus group should include both current customers and people who’ve never made a purchase, in order to get a mix of opinions. It is hoped that the focus group will provide insight into how the public would react to the subject matter, and what (if any) changes should be made before the formal launch.
You might be wondering if information collected from focus groups is really valuable. And is it a good strategy to gather information?
Focus Group Strategy
Focus groups can give your business a lot of useful information if the people in the group are the same as the people you’re trying to sell to.
The data you collect from them is important because it can help you build successful strategies by:
- Collecting more accurate needs assessments from customers.
- Pulling meaning behind facts and numbers obtained from more general surveys.
This information can be used to determine how best to market your product or service. By understanding your customers’ pain points, you can adjust your product’s features to better suit their needs.
An agenda is essential for a successful focus group. Without one, you risk having your focus group fall apart or fail to meet your objectives.
Focus Group Agenda
To ensure your focus group is productive, create an agenda before the meeting starts. This will help keep everyone on track. Here are the main points to follow when making your own.
Welcome the focus group participants.
Thank the participants for coming and introduce yourself and any other researchers who are present. It is essential to take this step in order to build a good relationship with the group you’re working with and to gain their trust.
Have the participants introduce themselves.
This allows the group to build rapport and make sure everyone knows how to pronounce everyone’s names correctly.
Establish some ground rules for the group.
Before you start asking questions, set some guidelines for the group to follow. Take this moment to clarify any concerns such as:
- If a topic could become controversial, let that be known and set boundaries for how far a discussion can go.
- If you’ll be asking for information that isn’t normally shared in a group setting, assure the cohort that the findings won’t have names or identifying data attached to the responses.
- If your company is reimbursing expenses or providing payment to the focus group participants, let them know how and when they’ll receive their disbursements.
After you have clarified any questions they may have, you can begin asking questions about your product, service, or business.
Ask questions methodically.
Now, here’s the fun part. There may be one main topic of discussion during the focus group, but there are probably several smaller topics that need to be discussed as well. What is the best way to structure questions in a conversation? The best way to structure questions in a conversation is to make sure the flow of the conversation makes sense. The business has been doing well lately and is expected to continue doing so in the future. The business is doing well and will continue to do so in the future.
Wrap up final thoughts.
After you have finished discussing the topic with the group, tie up any loose ends by addressing any remaining questions or ideas. Thank you all for your time and participation. This concludes our session.
If you need help organizing the steps into a handy agenda, we’re here to help. Download the PDF below so you have it for your next focus group.
Before running a focus group, it is important to understand how to conduct the session and what is needed to make it successful.
How to Run a Focus Group
HubSpot’s Market Research Kit is designed to help you run an effective focus group, including a focus group questionnaire and a guide on how to run focus groups. clicking here. You can download a kit that will help you to incorporate the steps in this post into your focus group strategy by clicking here.
Choose your topic of discussion.
When participating in a focus group, you should only discuss one or a few topics. It is not possible to discuss every area of interest in a single short focus group session.
Many companies run multiple rounds of focus groups on different topics because it is a common practice. For example, you could have one focus group that is focused on the marketing and brand positioning of a new product, and another focus group that is focused on the usability and functionality of the product itself.
Choose your questions or discussion prompts.
Once you determine the topic of discussion for your focus group, create a list of questions that will help you gather the necessary data. Additionally, create some discussion prompts that will help keep the conversation flowing and allow you to explore the topic in greater depth.
Let’s return to the product launch example from above. If you’re running the product marketing focus groups, you could ask questions like:
- What do you think of the packaging design?
- How much money would you spend on a product like this?
- What other companies do you think of when you see a product like this?
What questions would you ask a focus group about a product? -What do you think of the product? -How easy is it to use? -What are its strong points?
Be sure to ask questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Asking questions like “Do you like the product?” will not produce as much detailed results as asking questions like “What do you think of the product?”
Advantages of Running a Focus Group
Conducting a market research focus group can be beneficial for any business. Here are some of the advantages of running a focus group:
Hands-on and direct feedback
Focus groups usually involve participants interacting with a product physically. Companies can see how their audience uses the products by collecting data through user insights.
This allows you to view their initial thoughts as well as how well they understand the product. You can learn a lot about people’s reaction to your product by observing their non-verbal cues. Do they struggle with it in the beginning? Do they figure it out quickly?
Verbal reactions are important, and play a big role in the process. Having the ability to get immediate feedback from your viewers is worth its weight in gold. Asking follow-up questions to customers can give you insights into what they want.
This feedback is coming directly from the source. It is more accurate to listen to someone talk than to read a text, and you get the information more quickly. This allows you to make decisions about your next steps more quickly.
Opportunity to optimize products before launch
If you are a company that sells products, you are aware that production costs can be very expensive. Producing products in large quantities can help you save money on manufacturing, but if you don’t optimize the product first, it could end up costing your business.
It is beneficial for companies to have consumers test their product before mass-producing it as this can avoid potential issues and wasted time/money.
Focus groups can often be fairly inexpensive. The company can either run them internally or hire an external company to do so. However, the costs involved are not much. You will typically need to rent a space, have some time available, and pay the participants for their time. The specifics of how you run your business depend on what you want from it. Do you have any plans to do any follow-up interviews? Do you want to interview multiple groups of participants?
Disadvantages of Running a Focus Group
While there are many advantages to running a focus group, let’s see what some of the disadvantages are:
Managing group dynamics
The problem with focus groups is that people are in a group and can be influenced by other people’s opinions. Most people are more likely to misbehave when they are in a group than when they are alone. There are a few things that can happen when you are in a bigger group.
For example, the group may have a dominant personality. The participants who are more willing to express their opinion may be different than the others. The fact that something might not be bad does not mean it is necessarily good. This can affect the group’s thoughts negatively.
If you’re worried that people will only give you the answers they think you want to hear, you’re right to be concerned about group think. Essentially, groupthink is when the group unanimously agrees on one opinion, even if some members don’t agree.
Another issue that can arise when working in groups is how to manage the conversation. One question might lead to a deep discussion or debate. This can be a good idea unless the topic is not of interest to your business. Since you only have a limited amount of time for these focus groups, you’ll want to make sure the conversation flows smoothly and covers all the important topics you want to research.
Small groups might not represent the entire market
An ideal focus group size is usually around 7-10 people. At the end of the day, your customer persona is only based on 10 people.
If a single member of a group has a disproportionately large influence on the group’s dynamics, the group’s results may not be very meaningful. Conducting multiple focus groups will allow you to collect opinions from a wider range of people.
Tips for Running a Focus Group
Many things go into running a successful focus group. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
What kind of participants should take part in your focus group?
You should be clear about a few things within your business before looking for participants for your focus group. To begin with, consider what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. This will help you understand your target audience.
When you have pinpointed your target audience, it can be useful to create a buyer persona. This will give you a better understanding of what they are looking for and how to appeal to them. This is a profile of your ideal customer. A “fictional customer” is a person who is not a real customer, but who represents the perfect customer for your business. The more specific information you have on who you want to target in your market research, the easier it will be to identify them. This includes information such as their name, hobbies, home life, etc.
Remember that you don’t want too many participants either. More than 10 people can be a bit chaotic. Some participants may not participate if they don’t have the opportunity to speak.
Finding participants for your focus group
Although you may know who you want to partner with, actually finding them can be difficult.
Recruiting focus group participants from your existing customer base is one way to attract participants. There’s a good chance your target audience will fit the persona of your current customers.
If you want to get feedback from your social media followers, you should create a post asking for their feedback. Since they are already following you, there is a good chance they fit your target audience and will want to give feedback on your products.
If you’re looking for people to participate in your study, try posting in relevant subreddits on platforms like Reddit. People who actively choose to follow a particular subreddit are likely to be a good fit for that subreddit.
Keep in mind that time is money. If you want people to spend their time on something, you’ll need to give them a good reason to do it. Offering someone money is usually the best way to get them to do what you want. You could try offering them discounts or credits to your shop. If these people are already following you on your social media, it is likely that they will be interested in it.
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