Customarily, marketing research methods were done with a lot of physical involvement. It consisted of a lot of traveling and face-to-faces meetings. This was not just on the side of the researcher, but also on the side of the respondent. One of the tools for marketing research is organizing a focus group and only until not so recently have market researchers incorporated the power of the internet connection into their methods.
Focus groups are made of members who share similar tasks at given times. In the duration of the research project, they are committed to a regular meet-up in order to discuss a variety of topics about a specific topic, product, idea or method of service. Most times a focus group is created to provide feedback about products that are about to or have just been released to the public. Imagine how one day in the week of going through the hassle of going out of the way to meet each week in a venue that may not be the most convenient place for everyone at a time that only MOST but NOT all can regularly attend. Well, thanks the internet, focus groups are no longer as difficult as it was nor is it as bothersome for both the facilitator and the participants.
One of the greatest gifts of the internet to marketing research is how much it has cut its research expenses; many online apps are FREE! Nowadays, focus groups can be done online through conference calls, individual calls or video/voice chatting. Most researchers feel that applications like Skype and join.me are applications sufficient enough to be utilized as the medium of keeping in touch with the members of the group and since they are used worldwide, most people have a chat ID for Skype, join.me, tango or the like.
No discouragement there. They are the most used apps these days, business or not, but of course marketing research companies have also created their own apps for conducting focus groups with a lot of tools added to the chat rooms. They have incorporated the video conferencing with the tools to do file sharing, show presentations and visuals that allow the researcher to make visual notes or explanations for the entire focus group to see. It also provides links to their online bulletin for continued discussions outside their scheduled meetings. The best thing is that they are flexible enough to be downloaded on Apple, Android phones and MS and MAC PCs.