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Well Structured Focus Groups Can Yield Valuable Information About A Target Market

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Focus groups, an open discussion involving a specific number of participants, have been utilized for nearly a century to predict the reactions a greater population. First utilized during WWII to measure the effectiveness of the war’s propaganda efforts, focus group surveying techniques have become a staple in the world of modern marketing where they are seen as an important tool for acquiring consumer input regarding new products or a new strategic marketing initiative. Properly organized and monitored, focus groups will provide valuable information concerning the direction and acceptance of a new product or campaign.

Even the best structured focus groups can be unpredictable if not carefully formed and monitored. Too small a group of participants may produce invalids results by failing to capture enough information to represent the feelings of the larger targeted audience. Too large a number of members and controlling the group’s discussions and focus on the intended product or strategy can be complicated. While there is no one optimal number of participants, a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12 candidates are generally thought to be sufficient to insure the validity of any results. Larger groups tend to make it more difficult to effectively direct a free flow of ideas and discussions, while smaller groups often fail to produce scientific results. Like a jury pool, additional members should be available to fill-in for those who are unable to complete the entire survey process. Particular care should be taken to adequately vet candidates to ensure that they closely represent the larger market.

Discussions should be open and free flowing but monitored to ensure the conversation stays tuned to the objectives of the study and to conclude the process in a timely manner.  The moderator should focus the group’s attention on the intended topic and should encourage participation to elicit open responses.  A moderator should be a professional who has demonstrated capabilities to interpret subtle, verbal and non-verbal conversational clues. The best results will be yielded by an unbiased and experienced moderator.

Choose a comfortable and off-site location for the group’s discussions. In-house settings tend to produce a more biased result and interfere with a free flow of ideas. Facilities designed to accommodate group events are preferred. The emphasis should be on personal comforts. Food and refreshments are advantageous to producing a productive setting.

All sessions should be monitored and recorded in order to be reviewed and revisited at a later time. Multiple groups on the same topics can elicit a broader result and will improve the validity of the overall results. The larger amount of data that is compiled will improve the scientific validity of the focus group.

The cost of focus group research can be adjusted to accommodate any size of budget and can be beneficial to establishing an effective strategy to target specific demographic groups and how a marketer can best meet their strategic needs and desires.

For additional information how you can conduct your own market research utilizing focus groups contact Junction Creative Solutions today at 678-686-1125.

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