The use of focus groups is a very popular method of market research. In a few words, focus group is a discussion managed by a moderator (researcher). The members of the group are potential consumers whose opinion is extremely important for any contemporary business. This article outlines the situations when focus groups application is advantageous for market research.
Research of development of a new product. Often the method of focus group interview is applied when it is necessary to present the concept of a new product or its prototype to the group of consumers and reveal their reactions in order to determine strong and weak points of the concept.
Developers modify the concept or the prototype of a new product on the basis of the received information, and then carry out additional qualitative or quantitative research to reveal the reaction of consumers to the changed version.
Research of positioning. These researches are considered strategic because of their goal of defining the most effective way to communicate the message about goods, service or enterprises to the target group.
Focus group research of positioning is frequently applied to help advertisers to find the most suitable way of informing would-be consumers of an individual product or service and creating a unique and significant message for them. First, researchers find out consumers' existing perceptions of products or services, and then offer them alternatives to determine the strong and weak points of their concepts.
Research of habits and consumption. Focus group research is applied to receive basic information from participants about their consumption of different goods and services.
For example, a bank which is going to increase the number of cash dispensers, can organize a focus group with consumers and those people who do not use them, to define: how often they use cash dispensers and services of cashiers; what principal reasons of using and not using them; what are the main problems clients face when they use cash dispensers; and what factors can make their use more frequent.
Focus group research of habits and consumption is the most advantageous when a client requires quantitative study of consumption styles and wishes to collect information which would promote understanding of how consumers use goods or services.
Rating of packing. Focus groups are also frequently used to get the reaction to new packing, to its concept, its draft or a relatively complete sample. At the initial stage the purpose of focus group is usually to give a definition of the strong and weak points of different elements of packing. Later designers can change these elements to create the final prototype. At this stage the research of a packing is used to help copywriters to create the best design which is easily remembered, demonstrative and trusted by consumers.
When focus groups are applied at later stages of design development their main task is often to confirm that no elements of packing are regarded as unpleasant, and none of them carries an additional meaning which will not fit the product image and the concept of positioning.
Focus groups advantages and potential are appreciated not only by market researchers. This method is widely used in election campaigns and political consulting, education, social sphere, decision-making processes, mass media, etc.