Exploratory discussions

Getting people to explain their activities, intentions, and practices – in interviews or in focus groups. These can be in-person or online, as is most effective to the need.

Focus groups can be in person or online.

In-person focus groups are an exploratory research technique that brings people together to verbalise behaviour, expectations, motivations, responses to stimuli, reactions and reasons and to verbalise and show responses and intentions if…

In-person focus groups are moderated face-to-face discussions with between seven and ten people, over a couple of hours, and recruit people who are alike or unlike as best suits the objectives.  We normally hold our groups in areas close to where the people who will participate live, and at times that suit them.  Our clients are always encouraged to attend and watch.

Online focus groups can be undertaken in three ways, depending on the needs.

One method is to have 4 or 5 people use their web cams to participate in a video online focus group.

Each person in the online video focus group participates from home or work as is most convenient for them.  They come together in a moderated group at a preset time for an hour or so.  We can see and hear them and they can see and hear the moderator and each other.  Clients can also watch the group live, and can ask the moderator for more on an area, if something requiring that emerges during the discussion.

The online video focus groups work well when participants are geographically dispersed and particularly when visual material or visuals of the people involved is required.

An alternative is for an online bulletin board and have the interaction spread over five or so days, with participants engaging for fifteen to twenty minutes twice a day, at times that suit them.  This style of online focus group is also moderated, with participants shown questions and asked to answer those.  Then, when they have done that, they are shown the answers of others and are asked to comment on those answers.

The third option is for participants to meet via their computers, at a preset time, and remain unseen and communicate just via their keyboards, for an hour or two, responding to the moderator’s queries and to each others’ comments.

Panels are an effective way to monitor attitudes and behaviour over time and to  actually engage with customers or prospects.  You can set up the panel for a specific time and range of topics, or can run the panels over time and explore concepts and plans on an interactive basis.

Choice between the methods is influenced by factors including whether seeing each other could alter the discussion (hierarchy or  gender can influence comments), or whether it is more cost-efficient and research-effective to use online groups or panels than to travel extensively.   In choosing the between the different methods, it’s a matter of determining the need first and then choosing the most appropriate and cost-effective method to answer that need.

Women in a focus group - thinking and discussing

To find out more, contact Philip Derham – by email at Philip.Derham@derhamresearch.com.au    or by mobile phone 0414 543 765 or by telephone (+61) 03 9897 3011.

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