Paid focus groups are a form of qualitative research where people are asked questions in an interactive group setting. From a marketing perspective, it is an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products and various topics.
A consumer focus group is a meeting where a group of selected people are asked about their opinions towards a product or service with the purpose of helping brands to improve their services.
Online focus groups involve respondents gathering online and reacting to a particular topic. Respondents can be sourced from all over the world and react in real time, arguably being freer with their responses since they can be anonymous in an electronic environment.
Online focus groups are ideal for having frank, detailed conversations with people who have an interest in your brand – this means they result in primary, qualitative data. This information can then be used to create quantitative research questions.
Online focus groups can be conducted by using a range of technologies. The simplest is to use a text-based messaging program or online forum – there are many options available. More sophisticated tools allow for voice or video conferencing, and can make it easier for the researcher to pick up clues from the respondent’s voice and facial expressions. Some tools allow the researcher to share their desktop screen with respondents in order to illustrate a concept or question.
Focus groups are less formal than surveys: the researcher will have specific questions to ask, but the conversation usually grows and develops organically as participants discuss their impressions. Usually running for between one and two hours, focus groups are used to get consumer views on:
• New products or marketing campaigns
• Existing products and campaigns, and how they can be improved
• Sentiment around the brand
• Views on a brand’s new direction or visual style
• Ideas for how the brand could improve its position or branding.
Usually, a focus group is conducted in a space reminiscent of conference rooms but including a two-way mirror, which is the area meant for the people behind the product/service (owner or representative).
And almost every time, the proceedings in a focus group are recorded to facilitate analysis through playback later on.
During a focus group gathering, which typically lasts around a couple of hours, participants are required to perform different tasks like creating ad mock-ups of a sample product, drawing a picture, or even writing a short essay.
Sometimes, they are even asked to discuss the possible names for a yet unnamed and publicly withheld product.
Also, focus group tend to keep the nature of the product/service away from participants till the very end as otherwise, there is a danger of the panel developing a bias of some sort.
In the marketing world, businesses are thirsting for consumers’ opinions, feedback, ideas etc. One of the oldest and still most qualitative way of doing so, is through Focus Groups.
Whilst is it the most insightful methodology, it is also one of the most expensive.
It demands more time from consumers, but also means they need to travel (except for Online Focus Groups). Obviously this means more compensation …
There are dedicated focus group websites that you can register on in order to be invited to take part. One of the most well-known in the UK is www.paidfocusgroup.co.uk . They organise Focus groups in their own market research facilities in Birmingham, but also across the UK with partners from London to Manchester.
Traditional market research focus groups pay much more per session, but you're limited to a few a year. All it involves is giving opinions on the chosen subject, usually with free refreshments, and you can walk away with anything from £30 to £250 depending on the subject. Usually paid in Cash, PayPal or bank cheque.