Archive for March, 2013

What are focus groups? Research techniques article 4

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

We get asked this a lot. What are focus groups? What are discussion groups? Are they the same thing? Are they still relevant in an online age? What are they used for? And so on…

Perhaps we need to clear up some confusion around this powerful research technique.

1. What are focus groups and discussion groups and is there a difference? Viewing facility for groups


“Participants unknown to each other are brought together in a neutral location, for the specific purpose of discussing an issue, or responding to ideas and/ or materials of interest to the client of the research.
The term ‘focus group’ originated in the USA. It is useful to retain a distinction between this and the term more widely used in the UK, ‘group discussion’. This is because the two terms carry implications of two quite different approaches to group interviewing within market research. Focus groups tend to refer to the cognitive model (perception, intuition and reasoning) and ‘group discussions’ tend to refer to the conative model (desire to perform an action – voluntary or purposive action) of qualitative research.”

Source: Glossary of terms compiled by Melanie Tibbs – The Marketer Magazine April 2006

In practice in the UK, like market and marketing research, the terms tend to be used interchangeably.

2. Why undertake ‘groups’?

Groups represent a, powerful, qualitative research technique that can deliver real insight from the synergies created in a group environment.

Although comparatively costly as against quantitative techniques, they provide a level of detail and a depth of exploration not easily available from other methodologies.
It is important to remember that the findings are qualitative so about what people ‘feel’, their perceptions, views and attitudes. These are things that are hard to quantify but just as important as numbers in many ways. The techniques to gather this data tend to be largely unstructured enabling respondents to talk about things in the way that they wish to.
The findings are therefore indicative only. The purpose of groups is not to attempt to quantify outcomes.

Groups fill ‘gaps’ with likely meaning
3. What should they be used for?

Groups are used mainly for:–

  • Exploratory research. Discovering the parameters of an area to be researched further, for example.
  • New product or services development research. Similar to the above, discovering more about what is needed or wanted by the target audience(s).
  • Creative development research. Testing what target audiences are likely to respond to, what their preferences are and what they are unlikely to react to.

4. How do groups work?

Groups typically comprise of 8-10 respondents and last approximately 1 ½ hours. Any more than this number and they can become difficult to run and control due to group dynamics. For example, with more than 10 or 12 people a group will tend to split into 2 with a leader/ spokesperson for each element.
Groups are run by an experienced moderator. The moderator introduces topics for discussion and directs and controls the group. The overall aim is to enable the participants to discuss topics as they would like to discuss them. So from the attendees’ perspective, the discussion should appear to be largely unstructured.
The moderator uses a discussion guide containing the following elements and phases:-
i) Introduction phase

• Outline the objectives of the session

• How a group discussion works is explained to participants

• An agenda of topics to be covered is given

• Participants  are prompted to introduce themselves
ii) Discussive phase

• This is where the general topic areas to be discussed are covered. This is where most of the time is spent.

• Prompts and stimulus material are used to encourage discussion

• Projective techniques may be used to elicit respondents’ deepest feelings and motivations by getting them to  “project” those feelings and motivations into an unstructured and undefined situation (these may include word or picture association, sentence completion, role-play, personification, storytelling and so on).
iii) Summarising phase

• Participants are prompted to summarise their understanding of what has been covered and what they see as being the key outputs from their perspective.

• This is where any other comments that each participant would like to add can be captured. Often, one of the richest sources of insight from the group.

Incentives to attend are normally provided. It is usual to undertake at least 3 groups to avoid the danger of atypical responses.


5. Are they still relevant in today’s environment?

Without a doubt. Groups remain a powerful research technique to enable exploration of people’s views and attitudes towards a range of subject matter. Being able to; direct discussion ,benefit from synergy within the groups and observe non verbal signals means that groups are still one of the best ways of gaining real depth of insight from those that your organisation wants to interact with.

Online discussion groups are also widely used and provide all the above benefits with the exception of observing non verbal signs from participants.

Happy Easter – see our latest Interact newswire here

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Here is our latest newswire





What our clients say -The HR Specialists

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013


“We would like to thank you for helping us put together our marketing development plans recently, especially at a time when we are growing our business and have exciting ideas to pursue.

We particularly found the initial discussions and mapping exercise very useful in collating our thoughts, prioritising and planning the best way ahead.  Your business and marketing experience, expertise and practical help was extremely beneficial, as always – and the day was fun and informative!  The follow up action plan that you produced will no doubt help keep us focussed and on track to ensure we continue to expand and have a successful outcome.  We look forward to reporting back and reviewing our progress with you!

We would not hesitate in recommending you and your company to anyone, in whatever market sector they operate in.”

Laura Hopson FCIPD, Director – The HR Specialists


What our clients say – Luxury goods

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013


“Bax Interaction gave a comprehensive and tailor made service with the flexibility to tweak and improvise as research respondents necessitated. Skillful at eliciting of participant responses. “

March 2013

What our clients say – Prospect Research

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013


Prospect Research recently worked with Steve Bax on one of our client’s market research projects, which incorporated managing and facilitating a focus group.  As an outsourced facilitator, it was essential that Steve became familiar with the project, understood the main objectives, and worked well within the Prospect Research team.  His attention to detail, strong facilitation techniques and detailed final report was key to the project’s success.  I would have no hesitation recommending  Bax Interaction to anyone else wanting support with their market research.”


Beth Walthew, Director, Prospect Research Ltd.

December 2011

What our clients say…Dansac

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

“The questionnaire produced by Bax Interaction met all of our objectives and has given Dansac a greater insight into our customers and added extra value to the business. We have acquired new information on our customers which we can not only use to help cleanse our database and update it but helps us to cater campaigns to suit their individual requirements which establishes and helps grow our existing relationships.”

Kerry Jones,

Senior Marketing Co-ordinator

Dansac UK

April 2012