Focus Group

Definition- it is a research, which is undertaken using an unstructured research, approach with a small number of carefully selected individuals to produce non-quantifiable insights into behavior, motivations and attitudes.

Qualitative and quantitative research as two distinctly separate bodies of research – many studies encompass both approaches, with qualitative research being used to explore and understand attitudes and behavior, and quantitative research being used to measure how widespread these attitudes and behaviors are.

Qualitative research can be used when managers need exploratory research. Managers use exploratory research to understand customer attitudes, emotions, preferences and behaviors. It can also be used in new product development or creative development research. Individual depth interview

It is an interview that is conducted face-to-face, in which the subject matter of the interview is explored in detail using an unstructured and flexible approach. As with all qualitative research, depth interviews are used to develop a deeper understanding d of consumer attitudes and the reasons behind specific behaviors. This understanding is achieved through responding to an individual’s comments with extensive probing.

The flexibility of this probing sets this interview approach apart from oter questionnaire-type interviews. Although there is an agenda of topics to be covered, the interviewers will use their knowledge of the research objectives, the information gained from other interviews and the comments of the respondent to select which parts of the dialogue with the respondent to explore further, which to ignore, and which to return to later in the interview. Not only is the depth interview flexible, it is also evolutionary in nature.

Focus group Focus groups are depth interviews undertaken with a group of respondents. It is different to individual interviews in the number of respondents and interaction between participants. Several factors affect focus group

Recruitment is a very critical element of group discussions and has long been a major quality-control issue in the UK marketing research industry. Group discussions are unlikely to achieve their research objectives if the wrong types of participant are recruited. The research proposal will set out the type of participants required for a group discussion. For example, if Colgate is researching a new type of toothpaste for a sensitive teeth.

Their specification may request respondents who regularly purchase toothpaste with sensitive protection function. Respondents age (for example 25-64), living area, etc. Managers can also use Screening questionnaire to identify suitable respondents for its group discussion. The area that respondents are recruited normally should be in street or telephone interviews.

The location that group discussions were held should let respondents feel comfortable. Locations such as viewing rooms or hotels for business should have no special facilities apart from audio type recorder. Food or snacks will also be provided to assist in relaxing the atmosphere.

Time to hold the discussion should be well scheduled. Times should be available to target group. For example, outside working hours, times of available public transport etc.

The number of groups should be 3-4. As the 3rd and 4th group can used to exam atypical views. * There are problems involving focus groups. For example in the case of overlapping dialogues from different speakers which may affect the transcript. * Moderators must learn to control such people and encourage those less willing to speak up and let their opinions be heard.

Comparing to traditional group discussion, online group discussion or chat room is becoming popular. Apart from lower cost and possible time-saving, it can allow more people to be involved in observing the research, particularly if it is being carried out in a different region or country.

However, a cheaper version of online group discussion or chat room where a group is recruited who are willing to discuss a subject online usually using text. It can be difficult to develop any real group dynamics and it is impossible to see people’s facial expression. Even with webcams, the video picture is usually so poor.

Participants may also be distracted by events within their own office or home, as the environment is not under the control of the moderator. However, it may be useful with people who could be unwilling to attend a group discussion because of their geographical dispersal or their introverted nature.

Projective techniques Projective techniques are techniques used in group discussions and individual interviews to facilitate a deeper exploration of a respondent’s attitudes towards a concept, product or situation. They enable respondents to express attitudes that they find difficult to verbalize. Projective technique projective techniques may gather ‘richer’ data than do standard questioning and discussion.

There are many types of projective techniques. The most common three techniques are projective questioning. It is a projective technique that asks the respondent to consider what other people would think about a situation. An example of this could be “What do you think people in your street would think if they saw a BMW parked in your driveway?” The advantage of projective questioning is that it usually reflect the opinions of the respondent without causing them any embarrassment. Managers can get more objective answers.

Word association tests It is a projective technique that involves asking respondents what brands or products they associate with specific words. In marketing research, word association is typically used in conjunction with brand names or celerity endorsers. This can assist marketers in developing communication objectives and strategies to position or differentiate their brands from those of competitors. In addition to the direct outputs of word association, the technique is also very useful as a way of warming up a group by getting everybody contributing and involved. Brand personalities

Brand personalities involve respondents imagining a brand a person and describing their looks, clothes. Lifestyles, employment etc. For example, if ‘Nokia’ was a person, what type of person would he or she be? The answer could be such as a modern, relatively young slightly quirky male. This could compare with other brands. Developing brand personification can help to verbalize the imagery and vocabulary associated with the brand.

Sentence completion Sentence completion involves providing respondents with an incomplete sentence or group of sentences. Respondents are then asked to complete them. For example, ‘Tesco, as a supermarket, is…’ in many way, sentence completion is similar to word associations, although it can enable researcher to put the respondent’s thinking process into a proper context.

Observation research Observation is a data-gathering approach where information on the behavior of people, objects and organizations is collected without any questions being asked of the participants. Observation can take a quantitative format where a large number of events or people are observed and the outputs are analyzed using statistical method.

The major advantage of it over surveys of respondents is that the data collected do not have inaccuracies as a result of memory error or social desire bias. The data recorded reflect the actual behavior that took place. For example, video record gives a true representation of rental behavior.

Observation overcomes the high refusal rates that may exist for some survey research. However, observation cannot investigate reasons behind behavior. Also, only public behavior is observed. Examples of what can be observed are consumers behavior in store, family consuming behavior at home, comments on the internet.

Typical methods of observation are internet monitoring (club card, cookies), in-store observations (CCTV), mystery shopping(researchers participant into observation to look at process not the outcome of number of satisfaction), content analysis(how many time that the word appear in the article), ethnography(could be costly and have ethical issues). Ethical problem

Questionnaire A questionnaire is the research instrument designed to generate the data necessary for accomplishing a project’s research objectives. Questionnaires have advantages over some other types of surveys in that they are cheap, do not require as much effort from the questioner as focus group, and often have standardized answers that make it simple to compile data.

However, questionnaires also have many of the same problems relating to question construction and wording. The effect of questionnaire might also limited by the location that respondents do the questionnaire. For example, respondents who did questionnaire in high street could be affected by noise. There are many types of questionnaire. There are open-ended question, closed question, scaling questions.

There are many factors when comparing Focus group, depth interviews, projective techniques, observation and questionnaire. In terms of degree of structure, focus group are relatively high as managers will guide and control the whole discussion until all tasks are finished. In terms of probing of individual respondents, depth interviews are high and focus group and questionnaire are low. Moderator bias in depth interviews are high and others are medium. Observation has none effects in terms of both probing of individual respondents and moderator bias.

Focus group is also high in discovering innovative information. Projective techniques and observation are high in uncovering subconscious information and obtaining sensitive information. Questionnaire and projective techniques are involving unusual behavior or questioning.