Focus groups enable the client to learn penetrating, qualitative information about the subject of interest whether it’s an issue, individual, or concept. Lasting between 90 minutes and two hours, well-conducted focus groups elicit material from participants who might not otherwise be willing or able to share their thoughts in a one-on-one environment. Focus groups are useful tools for everything from jury issues to branding a product.
A successful focus group has several components:
- A physical setting that exudes comfort and security.
- A well-selected group of 12 to 15 participants who collectively reflect the values, interests, and backgrounds pertinent to the client’s concern.
- A moderator who has the skills and resources to extract thoughtful answers from the participants in a manner where they are voluntarily forthcoming and embracing of the exercise.
- A written analysis that combs through the information gathered in a way that helps the client gain insight into the ideas and values behind the issue that required the focus group.
Larry Gerston has been conducting focus groups for more than 20 years.