Qualitative Research & Focus Groups
Qualitative Research – Focus Groups
At Stretch we specialize in focus groups. Group discussion allows participants to share their stories and enables new ideas and suggestions to emerge. This can generate rich data in a less resource intensive manner than one to one interviewing.
The main purpose of focus group research is to draw upon respondents’ attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions in a group dynamic – similar to how we respond and react when we’re in a group of friends. We all know how influential a chat and recommendation can be from a friend – it’s the most powerful form of communication out there.
Before we start, we set out the aims and objectives of the focus group. What are we trying to achieve and what do we want to learn? Then we’ll agree the group size, make up and the appropriate locations.
The importance of focus groups is to allow conversations to flow and develop, rather than to encourage the answers you expect. To enable these conversations to occur it is important to clearly plan the focus group, creating a topic guide and secondly to think carefully about how the session will be facilitated. We can help you decide who, where, when and how this should be done to get the best results.
What questions do you want answered? Having decided to hold a focus group to conduct research the next step is to reflect on the aims and objectives of the research and how to ensure the focus groups answers your questions specifically. If you ask the wrong questions, you’ll get the wrong answers!
We’ll put together the topic guide and prompts for discussion. It needs to be flexible, as topics may be covered in a different order, in light of conversation. Visual prompts, images and words can be prepared in advance and used to instigate discussion.
During the planning stage, it’s useful to be aware of areas of discussion that are not required and might actually be harmful to the results. This is where questions may lead to discussion which is not wholly useful to the research topic. It is also important to ensure the facilitator is aware of these and comfortable with ways of ensuring discussion moves back on track.
Additionally, it may be helpful to include in the guide some activities or ideas for stimulating conversation and keeping the session engaging for the participants. We can help recommend these activities.
We’ll organize the recruiting of suitable participants making sure we get a good mix as sometime diversity can increase the range of ideas and points generated. We can make sure that the group is about the right size (not too many or too few) and that the participants relate in some way to the product or idea that is being discussed.
Having the right facilitator is crucial to success and this is where the experience that Stretch Marketing has gained over the years becomes so valuable. The discussion must be managed to allow points to be raised in relation to the topics and not to get too far off track before being brought back to the subject in hand. The facilitator also needs to make sure everyone is being heard. Each respondent will represent a valuable part of your target market, so it’s important that everyone’s views are aired equally.
More importantly, we really know how to read people.
We take account of body language, interpersonal engagement and things people are NOT SAYING – as these are equally valid observations in our analysis.
Sometimes it is useful to also have observers either for writing notes or to take a role in discussion offering opposing arguments to encourage new ideas into the group if necessary.
On completion of the group sessions, we will compile the results and then produce comprehensive analysis and recommendations.