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Focus groups

Find out how you can use focus groups as a method to develop your products and services

What is a focus group?

A focus group is a qualitative research method that consists of carefully selected participants who explore different aspects and engage in open discussions that can reveal their perceptions and opinions about a specific topic. It can, for example, be about a new product or service, an update of a feature, or a renewed concept. A moderator leads the group and takes notes or records the meeting.

The purpose of focus groups is to minimize the risk of making incorrect assessments of the product or service that the participants of the group will discuss, as much as possible. During the discussion, the moderator can find out what the participants really believe, feel, think, and perceive. Focus groups should not be confused with interviews. The value of focus groups largely lies in the interactions that occur between the participants of the group.

How many people are included in a focus group?

A focus group is a smaller group of people. A common number of members in a focus group is between five and ten people. The participants in the focus group meet to share their experience and knowledge about a subject, provide feedback, and express their opinions. All participants should be involved in the discussion. If the group is too small, there is a risk that it will be more like an interview, and if the group is too large, there is a risk that not everyone’s opinions will be heard. You can also choose to have multiple focus groups. Factors that determine if this is possible include how many types of participants you need and how large your budget is.

In a focus group, there is also an impartial moderator who takes notes and can also help move the discussion forward. Since the moderator guides the discussion, you can obtain many meaningful insights and useful opinions.

Focus groups in different phases of product or service development

You can gather a focus group at different times in a product or service development. When a focus group is used in an early stage of the study, this can provide increased understanding of users’ needs and desires. Simply put, through the focus group, you can receive early feedback on the potential of the product or service. In the middle of the development stage, the focus group can meet to identify problems with early prototypes and how these could be solved. If you choose to convene the focus group when the product is on the market, for example, it can inspire new features.

8 steps to create a focus group

1. Have a clear goal and purpose

When you know what you want to investigate, you can also set up criteria for who is suitable to be included in the focus group. Clarify your goals for the participants before the group meets.

2. Construct questions

The questions that the participants are to discuss should correspond to the goals and purposes of the survey. Start with the most important questions and end with less important ones. This increases the chances of obtaining a useful result. Also, remember that the questions should be open-ended.

3. Recruit participants

This can be a time-consuming process. Feel free to use FeedbackFrog to quickly and efficiently put together a focus group with relevant participants for the topic.

4. Choose a moderator

A moderator should have the confidence to lead and control the group so that everyone gets a chance to speak. The moderator should also be able to ask the questions in a relevant manner and follow up with additional questions if necessary. To achieve the best possible result, the moderator should not know any of the participants in the group.

5. Plan the meeting

Inform the participants about when and where the group will meet. It is also important to determine in advance how long the meeting will be. The focus group can meet via an online discussion platform or in a physical location. Send out invitations well in advance and don’t forget to also send reminders as the meeting approaches.

6. Write clear guidelines

Before the meeting, it is also good to inform the participants about the rules that apply during the meeting. Please include the overall questions and expectations that exist for the group’s participants. If the plan is to record the meeting, it is important to mention this from the beginning.

7. Conduct the meeting

When the participants in the focus group meet, the meeting should be conducted in such a way that they follow the goals and purposes of the study, as well as the guidelines that have been sent out in advance. The moderator should ensure that each question is limited in time in order for the conversations to be effective. 5-20 minutes per question, depending on the complexity of the questions, can be a suitable benchmark.

8. Compile and analyze the result

When the focus group has met, it is time to compile and analyze the participants’ discussions in order to gain new insights and be able to improve the product or service being investigated.

How do you find participants for a focus group?

For a focus group, it is very important to recruit the right participants. The dynamics within the group can affect the outcome. It is important that the selected participants have extensive knowledge about the subject.

FeedbackFrog can help you put together a focus group based on your selection criteria. What is important for your focus group to work? The participants’ gender, income, level of education, interests, or place of residence?

We match your topic with qualified participants. We also take care of all administration and contact with the participants. To increase the incentive to participate in a focus group, there is always a compensation, often in the form of a gift card.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of focus groups?

Using focus groups as a research method gives you a good understanding of how the participants truly feel about a product or service. In a smaller group, people are usually more comfortable sharing their opinions and perceptions. Therefore, you can discover perspectives that may not have emerged in an interview or other research method. Since the group members are representative of a larger group of people, you can use the information to conduct various analyses and draw conclusions.

The disadvantage of focus groups is that it can be difficult to find a time and place that suits all participants in the group. A meeting held online can often be easier to arrange. It is often more convenient for both participants and the moderator and also becomes more cost-effective.

Another negative aspect is that the group dynamics in a focus group can make participants think alike and dominant personalities can have a significant influence on the group. It is important for the moderator to be aware of this and ask the right questions.


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