Three Reasons to Leverage Online Focus Groups for Research
by Doyle Research Associates
Traditional focus groups are time intensive, can be cost prohibitive, and don’t always give you a representative sampling. Online focus groups have gained quite a bit of traction over the past several years, providing opportunities that their traditional counterparts just can’t match.
Focus groups are a cornerstone of qualitative market research, providing rich insights from key segments of your audience. But traditional focus groups are time intensive, can be cost prohibitive, and don’t always give you a representative sampling with a single in-person session. That’s where the Web--and online groups--come in.
Online focus groups have gained quite a bit of traction over the past several years, providing opportunities that their traditional counterparts just can’t match. If you’re struggling with resource constraints, timing issues, or just want an efficient way to get feedback on a series of stimuli.
1. GET GEOGRAPHIC DISPERSION IN A SINGLE GROUP, WITHOUT EVER LEAVING YOUR OFFICE
Getting information from target audiences can be complicated. People are busy, schedules often don’t mesh, and finding the right mix of participants can be a tall order. Things only get worse when your study requires representation in different regions, across the country, or on the other side of the globe.
With online groups, the playing field is leveled, giving you true geographic neutrality. You can hand pick participants from multiple locations, bringing them together to share insights in a way that would otherwise border the impossible.
2. SAVE TIME, MONEY, AND A LITTLE PIECE OF YOUR SANITY
Geography isn’t the only barrier to a successful in-person focus group. The effort required to get an adequate set of data that will really tell you what you need to know about your customer is significant, no matter how dispersed the audience. Many times one focus group isn’t enough; but multiple sessions, done in various locations isn’t always feasible--or preferable.
Online groups save you the time of setting up and conducting multiple in-person sessions; they reduce the costs associated with travel and expenses; and, perhaps best of all, they cut down on the craziness by letting you focus on what matters most: the information you get from a meaningful engagement with your target customer.
3. CAPTURE CRITICAL INFORMATION FROM HARD TO REACH POPULATIONS
When it comes to research, getting the right information from the right people is key. But once you know who you need to target, actually getting in front of them can prove all the more challenging--and, in some cases, completely unrealistic.
Unlike in-person studies, online focus groups provide a mechanism for engaging even the most difficult to reach populations, like C-level executives, individuals with disabilities, and customers in remote locations, among others. Sometimes providing the flexibility to participate from the home or office can make the difference between gathering high quality insight from the right people, and not being able to conduct the research at all.
DON’T WRITE OFF IN-PERSON RESEARCH JUST YET ...
As with anything, there are always situations where the good old analog method may still be the most appropriate. From our perspective, these can include:
- Situations that require depth of conversation
- Studies that call for the use of projective techniques
- Studies that require significant group interaction
- Studies that require participation of individuals with technology limitations
If you’d like to learn more about online focus groups, how we use them, and the benefits they can bring to your research program, feel free to contact us any time. We’d love to help you explore how this method can help enhance your overall efforts, while dramatically reducing time, costs, and the occasional headache.
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