Online focus groups are discussions conducted over the Internet between a researcher (the ‘moderator’) and a group of respondents.
They work in the same way as Internet ‘bulletin boards’. Respondents – who are invited to take part by email or over the telephone – are given a user name and password. This allows them to log in to a secure web-site, on which a list of questions is ‘posted’.
Respondents make their way through the questions, giving answers not only to the original question but also to the views of the other participants and follow-up questions from the moderator. The discussion is therefore interactive, dynamic and in-depth.
The discussion typically takes place over 2 days, allowing respondents to log in and give their views at their own convenience. The questions are laid out so that everyone’s views on each question can be seen by respondents who join the conversation afterwards. Nobody misses out by joining the discussion late!
The groups are conducted in 2 manageable chunks of 1 day each – a first group of questions appear on the board at the beginning of day 1, with more questions appearing at the start of day 2.
As with face-to-face focus groups, respondents can be presented with stimuli, which they can look at on-screen. Marketing materials, design concepts and web-sites can all be presented to respondents at the click of a button so that respondents can give their views.
The discussion can be viewed by our clients from start to finish from the office, home, or anywhere else with Internet access.
This article was written by Matthew Harrison