Focus groups

What exactly is a focus group?

Focus groups are small groups of consumers who meet to discuss a particular topic, issue, service or product. They do this under the guidance of a moderator.

How do you select the people in a focus group?

We carefully select respondents to make sure they are broadly typical of your target audience. Sometimes views are likely to diverge sharply between different demographics. Or perhaps long parts of the discussion would be irrelevant to some people. In that case, it can be more useful to conduct separate discussions with different gender, age or usage groups.

How long does a focus group last?

A typical focus group is between one and a half to two hours’ long.

What does the moderator do?

The moderator guides the discussion. They encourage everyone to give their views. They also promote an exchange of opinions between group members. Conversation is free-ranging. For the most part the participants lead the discussion rather than following a series of pre-determined questions.

Our moderators are skilled in drawing out people’s thoughts. Our staff also make sure they understand the issues before the focus group. This allows them to delve deeper in any points made should that be necessary.

Can focus groups be asked to look at example material?

Yes, focus groups are an excellent way to get feedback on new packaging, advertising or brochures. We encourage the use of this ‘stimulus material’ to promote discussion.

Can you set focus groups tasks to do?

Yes, we can set the group tasks. This often encourages them to discuss the issue amongst themselves and reach a consensus view. This is extremely useful in understanding reasons and the strength of feeling on a particular subject.

Can I observe the focus groups myself?

Yes, we can set up an observation area for clients. This is usually behind one way mirrors.

Do you record the focus groups?

Yes, we either use audio or video recordings to record the group discussion. This is essential when we produce the final report. Exact quotes from the participants can often express a viewpoint more powerfully than any summary.

Next steps

We have vast experience in moderating focus groups across many fields and sectors. To talk about how focus groups could help your business or organisation, call us on 0800 6523740, email us at, or fill in our enquiry form.

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