Nowadays focus group is one of the most popular methods of receiving information about your market. As a result, many customers have got used to applying it as a universal remedy for every problem. However, the situations of the wrong application of focus groups are rather widespread. We hope that market researchers will take into account the recommendations given below to avoid their predecessors' blunders.
The use of focus groups as a less expensive alternative to a quantitative research. It is the most widespread mistake made by organizations during the recessions of sales when a research budget is insufficient. For example, instead of a quantitative research of consumption styles and consumer attitude, an organization can choose a qualitative research of two focus groups. The results are misleading and can discredit the whole marketing program.
The use of focus groups to receive the information that cannot be received in this way. Focus group research allows to obtain various types of data, but there are some questions the answers to which cannot be received through a focus group. So, focus group research is not appropriate for:
- rating a new product sales;
- evaluating advertisement retention that has been achieved as a result of an advertising campaign;
- planning the system of recurrent purchases among those who has tried a new product or service;
- selecting the best packaging for a group of products among the alternative samples;
- determining the best price of goods or services.
Organizing more focus groups then it is necessary for achieving the goal of the particular research. Sometimes researchers and organizations ignore the fact that focus groups represent qualitative research and are not meant to obtain the statistically significant information. Nevertheless, some clients, in order to make up this deficiency, order a plenty of focus groups, often from 10 to 15 groups on a separate theme. Actually, increasing the number of groups can hardly improve their prognostic ability (since the information still remains qualitative).
Two more mistakes in focus groups research are the lack of serious attitude to the method and overexpectations. The qualitative nature of focus groups does not mean that a client may be irresponsible during the preliminary arrangement (recruiting a moderator and respondents, working out the topic guide, selecting demonstration materials, etc.). Customers and moderators should always remember that the method of focus group interview is a qualitative research and that the information received from a separate participant is relatively unimportant. Actually, for an effective use of focus groups it is necessary understand the attitude of the group toward the particular idea.
When the method of focus groups is applied correctly, it can be very effective in terms of getting valuable information on consumer attitudes. It is important to determine the purpose of the research as early as possible to choose the most suitable method. The application of qualitative methods of research for solving marketing problems allows not only to identify the system of values, motives, norms of behavior and positions that determine consumer behavior, but also understand their structure, features and cultural specificity.