Focus Groups Advantages & Disadvantages

By Lucy Crossfield | Editor | Published: 24 March 2014

Many businesses are unaware of the kinds of benefits using focus groups can have. A key market research tool, focus groups are often used in order to gain a better insight into different behaviours and opinions of consumers regarding products, brands and services.

We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of focus groups below. Focus groups are usually carried out by specialist market research agencies which can be found using Expert Market. Simply fill out the form above and Expert Market UK will match you with suitable agencies based on your requirements.

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What is a focus group?

A focus group is a kind of qualitative research method which puts a group of people together in a room in order to discuss specific topics. These could include brands, companies or products as well as finding out different attitudes about a subject or a figure (politicians for example).

Focus groups are usually conducted on behalf of a business or organisation, using a market research company who specialise in conducting, recruiting and evaluating focus groups, using experience and knowledge gained through years of working in the industry.

Focus groups are traditionally carried out face to face, but online focus groups through web chat and online forums are becoming increasingly popular and more cost effective for businesses. They can be conducted with different numbers of people according to your needs, with many businesses opting to use mini focus groups to get quick answers to their research questions.

The advantages of focus groups

Direct interaction

Focus groups allow businesses to directly engage with their customers. Being able to work face to face with a range of people, of different demographics can give a more ‘real’ insight into their opinions and help businesses to get to know their customers better.

Not just words or speech (in person only)

The benefit of being able to see participants and monitor their body language and other actions can be valuable depending on the reasons behind the research. They will also be able to provide more in depth, clearer answers than perhaps those which are put across in writing.

Time and money saving

Interviewing large groups of people at once is more cost effective than interviewing people individually. Not only will you save time by interviewing several people at once, but you will benefit from only having one session rather than multiple sessions. This also have the benefit of gathering your data quicker.

Hands on approach

If you use a focus group to conduct research, as opposed to paper, phone or online research, you can provide visual prompts, products to test and other services which can make the experience more real for your customers and gather more real responses. The best way to get an idea of what your customers think of their products is to let them trial them, and using them as part of a focus group can give you a controlled environment in which to facilitate the testing.

Answer key questions

Having a direct conversation with your customers can give you a deeper sense of their needs than asking them to fill out a form or tick some boxes. Being able to ask further questions based on their responses will help you to get deeper insights and find out the answers to questions that could shape how you market your products and services as well as find out where you’re going wrong with existing services.

Wider range of opinions

With focus groups, you get to choose the sample or instruct a market research agency to choose the sample on your behalf, based on the people who use your products as well as those who you want to use your products. Having a diverse audience can help you to get a range of views that you may not be able to measure online or over the phone.

The disadvantages of focus groups

Whilst focus groups have a number of benefits for market research, they aren’t always the most suitable answer for everyone. For example, those looking to gain the widest range of views possible may not be able to do so with a small sample which may not be representative. If sessions aren’t steered correctly, by competent individuals, then you may find that you don’t get the results that you want and that you waste time and money.

The main way to avoid these issues is to use an experienced market research agency which has a wide range of experience in providing focus groups for businesses. Not only will they be able to help you recruit the right sample but will use their knowledge in order to design the best sessions and use moderators who can steer the conversation and ensure that the sessions are as effective as possible.

Market research agencies

Using a specialist market research agency can ensure that your business has the best tools available in order to conduct successful focus groups. Whether you want to run small or large focus groups, workshops, product testing sessions and more, a professional market research agency will be able to advise you on the best options and ensure that they are designed to give you the best data to inform business decisions. Affordable and flexible, market research agencies can provide services for different industries as well as different business sizes.

Hopefully the information provided above will give you more of an insight into how focus groups work as well as how they can be used by your business.

As one of the most effective market research methods, focus groups are inexpensive and can provide great results which can help businesses to resolve a number of problems as well as demonstrate that they are listening to their clients.

If you’re interested in using focus groups for your business, complete this form and Expert Market UK will match you with suitable providers for your business needs.

Lucy Crossfield Editor

Lucy heads up the team on Expert Market, helping to deliver industry-leading expertise on business topics for nearly four years.

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