What is a focus group?
The focus group is a research technique used to collect data through group interaction on a topic. Essentially, it is a group experience comprising a small number of carefully selected people who are recruited to discuss a subject based on the commonality of their experience.
Focus groups are used to identify and explore behaviour, attitudes and processes. They are best used to throw light on the “why?”, “what?” and “how?” questions.
They can be used in three ways in the research design:
When focus groups are used as the sole source of data, the objectives will be explorative and diagnostic (what is the problem, how can we solve it, how will the market react?). When it is important to also get a fix on the number of people that think or behave one way or the other, a multi method design will be required with a quantitative stage to follow.
Group discussions are especially useful for researching new products, testing new concepts or determining "what would happen if…". They work because delegates can digest the points raised by other members and, as they consider the implications of issues raised, further ideas may be sparked off which would remain untapped in a personal interview.
Typical applications for focus groups are: