What do we mean by "focus groups"?

A focus group is the discussion of a predetermined topic by a group of 8-10 participants led by a trained group moderator.

Areas of application

In practice, focus groups are used to gather general and background information about a certain topic. The results of such "pre-tests" serve as the foundation for other subsequent explorations and make these more efficient and better targeted.

This method can be successfully applied to a variety of topics, from political research to advertising tests.

Advantages of focus groups

Through the discussion within the group, participants are often motivated to speak about deep-seated attitudes and beliefs. The group dynamic allows the perceived "interview situation" to recede into the background and enables inhibitions to be overcome.

This mechanism may be described as a "snowball effect," referring in this case to the debate within the group, the "give and take." These specific dynamics often lead to the crossing of thresholds and the expression of deeply personal opinions.

The process

Normally a focus group is carried out in two separate rooms which are connected to each other by way of a one-way mirror and/or a video link. A somewhat more sophisticated variation is the possibility of transmitting the proceedings via web link directly to the client's PC.

While in the one room the actual focus group discussion is taking place, the client can follow the discussion in the other room. In this way she or he can act either as a passive observer or choose to intervene in the proceedings indirectly.

The entire discussion is taped for additional analysis and is at the client's disposal following the conclusion of the exploration.

For international clients: not only is a simultaneous translator available for the discussion, but the option of using a native speaker group moderator also exists.

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