Companies or businesses conduct marketing research in order to determine the needs of their target consumers. There are many different effective and efficient research methods used to collate information from consumers. Traditional marketing research is done by direct interviews in public places, where a random sampling of a particular target group frequents a selected area. A researcher may ask consumers questions on a variety of topics from where they wish to spend their vacations or which toothpaste they most prefer. The results of such a research may be categorized as quantitative or qualitative, and is very dependent on numbers and other measurable and quantifiable data.
Another type of research preferred in consumer research is qualitative research, which is held in small groups, with up to 6-10 respondents, called focus groups. Market researchers want to find out how to make their products more attractive to their target market. Thus, focus groups are an ideal way to keep in touch with customers to identify their behavior and purchasing preferences.
Respondent recruitment is a very important step in conducting focus groups, as the quality of respondents determines the success of the focus group results. It would be best to select the respondents according to a set criterion matching the target consumers of the product, service or company, down to the demographics, income, job descriptions and educational attainment. Furthermore, it is advisable test the respondents first if they will be articulate and if they will pass the criteria for the research.
Focus group respondents are also paid a fee for participating in the research, depending on the duration of the consumer research. The length of this type of research is much longer compared to quantitative research, and may take up to one hour to three hours. The focus groups are usually held in rooms built for this purpose where clients and researchers may view the participants via one-way mirrors. There is also an option to record a video of the research proceedings so that the client or business owner may view the reactions and listen to the discussions of the participants without having to sit with the focus groups. This is done because the respondents will be more than likely to express their honest opinions.
The moderator or researchers also have the option to steer the discussion in the correct direction, by posing guiding questions to the participants and interacting with them during the discussion.