Advantages and Disadvantages of Focus Groups
Focus Groups are an innovative research method to derive conclusion based on real-time opinions and behaviour of consumers. It’s always a worthwhile to sit down among people from different walks of life and have their opinion on the discussion table. Focus groups are highly considered by researchers as an effective tool when it comes to delivering qualitative research. The Advantages and Disadvantages of Focus Groups evaluate the pros and cons and its effectiveness in modern age.
What are Focus groups?
Think of friends or colleagues sharing their opinions over coffee. Similarly, a Focus Group refers to a group of intellectuals and professionals who opine for the new product in the market or company. Focus groups are common to see in every company as they have a significant role in the company.
Focus groups generally include a moderator-led group discussion with around 8-10 people. Group respondents may be chosen based on shared demographics, circumstances, or buying behaviors. It is the collaboration of people who come together to share their experience and perspective for the product or service to be launched in the company. Focus groups can be considered as a class of critics listing out the pros and cons of a particular product or service for the company by forming their own ideas and correcting the wrong ones.
Focus groups can be convened online or offline, which can be text-based, video-based, or even highly interactive involving individuals interacting face to face. While planning a new focus group discussion, it is always worth considering the pros and cons of a focus group.
What are the Advantages of Focus Groups?
Several factors turn into advantages of Focus groups as they moderator speaks to respondents face to face discussing the product features real-time environment gives much more freedom to participants to come up with pros and cons of the company’s product that can be used effectively for a research.
1. Wider Reach
There are no demographic imitations, thanks to the advanced technology. Most of the Focus groups are conducted online these days. That infers that more people can join the event and discuss critical factors being researched without restriction. Wider reach to opinions is one of the notable benefits of focus groups conducted online.
2. Development of New Ideas
As the discussion in the focus groups continues welcoming suggestions, the participants grow space for new ideas and critique honestly. A mind free from any restrictions can come up with creative ideas as the discussions are going on.
3. The focus groups are Flexible
The focus groups are flexible as you can work or act according to your comfort. When there are specific rigid rules to mind, the flexible conversation always leads to factual and insightful statements. This, in turn, is not only beneficial for the moderator but also the company. The flexibility makes the whole process transparent as the clients get to look into the matter in a detailed manner.
4. Changes can be bought whenever required
The moderator in the group can make changes whenever required. Changes are needed to facilitate the discussions in a better manner and direction. If any concept needs a major or urgent makeover, it can easily be done with the help of the moderator and the flexibility of the focus group.
5. A Fruitful Conclusion- One of many Advantages of Focus Groups
Unlike other research methods such as case study, the chances of error and incorrect data are almost zero as the data collected is real-time. Thus, the results, in the end, are better as things are concluded after considerations and the changes until the moderator is not satisfied with the output. The more the challenges, the more are the alternatives to sort them out.
What are the Disadvantages of Focus Groups?
Besides the benefits, there are disadvantages of focus groups surrounding this type of survey and turn out to be major limitations. A limited number of respondents not always lead to accurate results. Also, most of the responsibilities are shared by a moderator. Therefore, S/he must be well-trained to handle any situation that may arise from the focus group interaction.
1. The moderators controls the Focus group
As the moderator controls the discussions, S/he gets to decide the final say, overriding what the others have to put on the round table. The level of such control depends on his or her experience in the research field. A facilitator can greatly affect the real outcome as S/he is a key individual in the focus group. This situation may also lead to biased moderator decisions. This limitation is one of the key disadvantages of Focus groups.
2. Participants might out on Sensitive Points
Sometimes the respondents are not ready to discuss some of the sensitive issues or the ideas which may concern the public.
So, this way the discussions get a halt and at times the discussions are not open. The discussion gets restricted and reserved which is not good for the output of the end product or even for the image of the company in the market.
The level of involvement that some participants may have could be minimal. Sometimes people don’t interact in a focus group at all. It’s important to recognize who may have an introverted personality in a focus group because introverts tend to absorb all the information around them and offer brief moments of insight. Those brief moments can be worth more than 30 minutes of others talking.
3. Lack of Attention – One of leading Disadvantages of Focus Groups
Provided 8-10 people participate in a focus group, the tendency to derive fruitful results based on a limited number of participants is minimal. Lack of attention from individuals also adds fuel to the fire, which further escalates the chances of inaccurate results. Therefore, these limitations deviate from the group findings from the final projections.
4. Findings may not be natural
Even though the Focus groups are conducted in an all-natural way, the participants often fail to express their concerns naturally. This often results in abnormal findings, which may be far from the estimated response and can adversely affect the company's end product.
Such incidents may arise either due to the reluctant behaviour of participants or too much casual nature of the respondents. In most cases, this happens whenever a discussion turns argumentative.
5. The key issue may not be covered
Focus Groups are also timed like every other event, which turns into one of the common disadvantages of Focus Groups both offline and online. Sometimes a discussion can go to lengths without any form of conclusion. The depth of the issue is not covered at such times. This way, the importance, and the depth analysis is not done properly. In such cases, a Moderator shoulders much of the responsibility to lead the discussion in the right direction keeping the participants’ engaged in conversation.
Focus groups are used to collect data to evaluate a new idea in a short period. As a leader, there can be both Advantages and Disadvantages of Focus Groups. The experience in these types of research is the key to manage people laying their opinions. As a participant, you must be absolutely honest and frank to critique the product. More or less, it’s the company that needs to heed the pros and cons of focus groups more than anyone. After all, they are the investors behind the stage, incurring their time and resources.