Focus Group Interview
A focus group interview is a structured, free flowing interview with a small group of people. It is not a rightly constructed question and answer session, but a flexible format discussion of a brand, advertisement, or new product concept. The group meets at a central location at a predesignated time. Typically, it consists of an interviewer or moderator and six to ten participants, although larger groups are sometimes used. The moderator introduces the topic and encourages group members to discuss the subject among themselves. Ideally, the discussion topics emerge at the group’s initiative. Focus groups allow people to discuss their true feelings, anxieties and frustrations, as well as the depth of their contributions, in their own words.
Focus groups are often used for concept screening and concept refinement. The concept may be continually modified, refined and rested until management believes it is acceptable.
Advantages of Focus Group
The advantages of focus group include:
- Cost Savings: They are relatively fast, easy to execute and inexpensive
- Synergy: The combined effort group will produce a wider range of information, insights and idea that will be an accumulation of separately secured responses from a number of individuals.
- Snowballing: A comment by one individual often triggers a chain of responses from the other participant. Brainstorming of ideas is frequently encouraged in focus group sessions.
- Simulation: As the group level of excitement over the topic increase, the respondents want to express their ideas and expose their feelings.
- Security: The individual participant can find some comfort in the fact that his or her feelings are similar to those of others in the group and so can expose an idea without being obliged to defend it or follow through and elaborate it. The focus is on the group rather than on the individual. The participant soon realizes that the things said are not necessarily being identified with him or her.
- Spontaneity: Because no individual is required to answer any given question in a group interview, the individual’s responses can be more spontaneous and less conventional.
- Specialization: The group interview allows the use of a more highly trained interviewer (moderator) because certain economies of scale exist when a number of individuals are interviewed simultaneously.
- Structure: The group interview affords more control than the individual interview with regard to the topics covered and the depth in which they are treated.
- Speed: The group interview permits securing a given number of interviews more quickly than does interviewing individual respondents.
- Scientific: The group interview allows close scrutiny in several ways. First, the session can be observed by several people, this affords some check on the consistency of the interpretations. Second, the session can be tape recorded or even video taped. Later, detailed examination of the recorded session can offer additional insight and help clear up disagreement about what happened.
Disadvantages of Focus Group
- Focus group require sensitive and effective moderators. Self appointed participants may dominate these sessions giving somewhat misleading results. If participants react negatively toward the dominant member, a halo effect on attitude toward the concept or topic of discussion may occur.
- Some unique sampling problem arise in focus groups. Researchers often select focus group participants because they have similar backgrounds and experiences, or because screening indicates that the participants are more articulate or gregarious than the typical consumer. These participants may not be representative of the entire target market.