A focus group is a qualitative research method in which a small, diverse group of individuals is brought together to discuss and provide insights on a specific topic, product, service, or concept. The purpose of a focus group is to gather in-depth information and opinions through open-ended discussions facilitated by a moderator.
Key features of a focus group include:
1. Participant Diversity: Focus groups typically consist of a diverse set of individuals who represent the target audience or stakeholders related to the topic being discussed. This diversity helps capture a range of perspectives and experiences.
2. Moderator: A trained moderator guides the discussion, asking open-ended questions and encouraging participants to express their thoughts and opinions. The moderator ensures that the conversation stays on track and covers relevant aspects of the topic.
3. Structured Format: While the discussion is open-ended, focus groups often follow a semi-structured format with a set of predetermined questions or topics. This helps ensure that important areas are covered while allowing for flexibility in the conversation.
4. Observation: Focus groups are often observed by researchers, clients, or other stakeholders behind a one-way mirror or through video/audio recording. This allows them to gather insights without directly influencing the discussion.
5. Small Size: Focus groups typically involve a small number of participants, usually ranging from 6 to 12 people. This allows for a more intimate and manageable discussion environment.
6. Duration: The duration of a focus group session can vary but is usually around 1 to 2 hours. This time frame allows for a thorough exploration of the topic without causing participant fatigue.
7. Analysis: Data collected from focus groups are often analyzed qualitatively, looking for patterns, themes, and insights that emerge from the discussions. While the results are not statistically representative, they provide valuable context and depth to complement quantitative research.
Focus groups are commonly used in marketing, product development, social research, and other fields to gather rich, qualitative data that can inform decision-making processes. However, it’s important to note that the findings from focus groups are not necessarily generalizable to a larger population, and they are just one piece of the research puzzle.