By Dana Koman
When something new is introduced, whether it’s an ice cream store or children’s toy line, conducting a focus group for consumer feedback prior to launch could be beneficial. To generate a successful focus group, we have a few tips to make the most of the experience.
It’s all in the details. The goal of a focus group is qualitative, constructive feedback. Group leaders should strive for quality over quantity. The more questions, the more rushed and overloaded a group may feel. Instead, plan to ask eight to 12 quality questions that require more than just yes or no answers. You want to engage attendees and open a constructive dialogue as much as possible.
Evaluate trends. Don’t let the focus group drive your creative solutions. Instead, the goal of the group is to help inform your solutions. Looks for patterns in the feedback and mold that to your advantage.
Control your numbers. Although you want diverse feedback, you don’t want to have so many people involved that some attendees are left out. An ideal focus group has anywhere from six to 10 participants. If needed, conduct more than one session.
Diversify your market. Once you identify your target audience (for example, middle-class couples between the ages of 35 and 55, or children under the age of 10), seek to diversify the group within. Be as inclusive in your attendees as much as your target allows. For example, strive for an equal ratio of men and women with a variation of cultural backgrounds.
Mind the clock. For optimal engagement, keep the focus group around one hour. Especially long meetings can reduce participation and interest with time, yet overly short groups may not get enough feedback.
Food is a must. Depending on your topic, you may need to provide incentive to drive participation. We found that providing lunch or snacks encourages participation and relaxes the environment. Participants are more willing to engage with one another when food is involved.
Avoid Mondays. The start of the work week, and the negative feelings associates with such, could influence the frame of mind of those participating in the group. Attendees, already suffering from a case of the Mondays, may view the group as a chore rather than a chance to engage in constructive feedback. And on the same note, avoid Fridays. The end of the work week is often a day when people leave early. We advise conducting focus groups Tuesdays through Thursdays.
Don’t forget the information. We encourage organizers to record the session. Video is not necessarily required, depending on the topic, but audio recording is beneficial. Organizers can play back the session for notes and transcribing. Just be sure to notify participants that recording is taking place in advance.
Remember to have fun. Attendees feed off the host’s energy and vibe of the room. Positive energy also helps promote engagement and participation, so don’t be afraid to show your excitement and passion for your product.