Focus group testing has been a mainstay of market research since companies began taking a methodical approach to understand their customers and audience base. Social scientists traced focus group methodology to as early as 1926, when sociologist Emory S. Bogardus conducted group interviews for his research. The methodology achieved wider popularity in the 1940s when market researchers used it to measure viewers’ attitudes toward soap operas.
Today, focus group research has evolved to include online focus groups. The use of modern technologies such as video chat, text chat, or message boards has added a different dimension to traditional focus group methodologies. If your company needs affordable but useful market research, online focus groups can provide several advantages over traditional in-person focus groups.
One of the biggest challenges associated with in-person focus groups is organizing convenient meeting times and locations for your chosen participants. Because moderators can conduct online focus groups without geographical or time zone constraints, online focus groups can pull answers from a wider pool of respondents all across the world.
Online focus groups can also save your company time and money as you conduct market research. Because the Internet allows instantaneous connection, you won’t have to worry about your participants or moderators being late after a long commute. You also won’t have to pay miscellaneous expenses associated with in-person sessions, such as facility rental fees or travel fees for the individuals involved.
One last benefit is that participants may be more comfortable and forthcoming with their answers in the comfort of their own homes. Participating in a focus group with a moderator in person can be an awkward experience for some respondents, and answering focus group questions at home can mitigate the discomfort for them.
While online focus groups can be beneficial to companies in these ways, companies should also be aware of the main disadvantage associated with this methodology. Since online focus groups rely on technology and the Internet, market researchers should ensure no technical difficulties ensue. If your Internet is unstable, you run the risk of derailing a focus group session.
Fortunately, you may be able to circumvent these issues with the help of an experienced professional online focus group service. John Zogby Strategies is well-versed in both online and traditional focus group methodologies. Contact us today so we can help you find the best market research methods for your company’s needs.