Posted on 08/12/22 by Louise Principe
If you’ve ever been to the local supermarket or convenience store, you’ve likely seen shelves of food and beverage products in multiple aisles. From canned goods to meat, chips, and beverages, the list is endless. In 2022, the market size for the F&B industry is expected to grow by a rate of 9.7% to an impressive $6.4 trillion.
Now, you might think that the process of getting a product from development to distribution is simple, but that’s not the case. These items undergo different testing methods before businesses deem them sellable. But to identify if a product will sell well, these companies need to talk to potential customers – this is where consumer focus groups come into play.
For this qualitative method to accurately capture consumer needs, feedback, and emotions, it must be done correctly. Here are four steps to effectively conduct a consumer focus research group.
Identifying Target Audience
The first step for a focus group is determining the audience targeting required to gather high-quality participants. To gather relevant information, your respondents should be based on criteria set forth by the client. Some examples of screening qualifications include:
- Behavioral - shopping habits, product usage, purchase intentions
- Demographics - age, gender, location, income level
Reaching Target Audience
Spreading a screening survey throughout multiple participant sources (e.g., email database, paid ads, and social media) filters out ineligible people for the consumer focus group. To save time on this step, a good alternative would be to hire a recruitment service or platform to screen and gather a respondent pool for you.
TIP: Contact the selected respondents beforehand via phone or text to confirm availability and answer any questions they may have about the focus group. This establishes rapport between the research team and participants to help improve show rates.
2. Focus Group Planning
When organizing focus group sessions, pay attention to these details:
Location: Where will the focus group take place?
Whether the session is in-person, online, or hybrid (in-person and online), ensure that the focus group will be conducted in a safe, accessible, and comfortable space for all members.
Size: Who should be there? What is the optimal focus group size?
Along with the participants, you would typically want one moderator to lead the discussion and one notetaker to record key points in each session. On the other hand, client observers can stream the session and give feedback online to minimize intrusions.
As for the optimal focus group size, a good number of participants would be between 8-12 for each session. This range makes it easy for the moderator to handle group dynamics while giving each participant ample time to contribute to the conversation.
Recording: How will the discussion be recorded?
To gather the full scope of data, recording each session on video is best. Using equipment that could capture 360° views of the facility and participants, remote viewers can stream and keep up with the discussion in real-time while never missing a single detail.
Timing: How long should each session take?
Each session should last for about 90 minutes to 2 hours. This ensures that each respondent has time to talk while also preventing burnout.
Use of information: How will the data be used?
Before starting each session, participants need clarification on certain aspects of the study. This includes what topics will be discussed, how their responses will be used, and if they consent to the use of quotes.
3. Group Facilitation
It’s a good idea to map out the flow of each consumer focus research group in some detail, taking into account how the product will be tested and the questions asked.
How the product is tested will differ for remote and in-person respondents. Remote participants would try a product at home for a few weeks, record their feedback, and share their opinions with the focus group. In-home usage testing (IHUT) provides researchers with data based on long-term experience.
Meanwhile, in-person usage testing gives clients an idea of consumers’ first impressions when trying the product. Respondents can also be given various options to compare factors such as purchase intent, value, and quality. This helps clients and researchers pinpoint winning product concepts.
Consumer focus group questions should be open-ended to prompt extensive responses. When sequencing, it is recommended to organize questions like a funnel – tackling general topics first before dissecting the meaning behind responses. Meanwhile, opening and concluding questions serve the purpose of building a comfortable environment and wrapping up the discussion.
Analyze session recordings to condense all your information into a report for stakeholders and clients to base their strategies on. Translating raw data into a compelling narrative may require a combination of transcription and curation tools to streamline your findings.
Reading through a physical copy of the session helps you identify and interpret major themes in the consumer focus group. Moreover, curation features such as tagging keywords, clipping videos, and storyboard creation deliver efficient and effective insight discovery after the session.
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