Best Practices to Drive Discussion in a Focus Group

The success of a focus group depends largely on how good a moderator is and his ability to drive the discussion in the desired manner. The typical duration of a focus group is 60 minutes and hence it is challenging to extract opinions and their corelated insights from the participants. Some of the best practices/methods adopted by skilled moderators are:

  1. Laddering: In this technique, the line of questioning proceeds from product characteristics to user benefits and ultimately to values.
  2. Context information: Experiences or issues that surround a product or a practice are usually explored.
  3. Top-of-mind associations: The first thing that comes to participants’ mind when talked about a product/concept/topic/theme?
  4. Querying the meaning of the obvious: Looking at the topic/concept from the participants’ angle and establishing a common definition for the overall group
  5. Conditions that permit and those that inhibit: “Tell me a situation when having this aroma inhaler will be appropriate? To what kind of situation, serving this snack will not be right?”
  6. Establishing conceptual maps of a product category: “How would you group these brands of tea? How is this group different from the other one?”
  7. Personality Mapping: “Here are various pictures of people / situations. Which of them will go with each of these apparel brands?”
  8. Pointing out contradictions: “You just told me that you want a washing machine that lasts for 8 years, and now you are telling me that you’ll go for this new one even though your present one is only 4 years old and working fine?”
  9. Divide & Debate : Dividing all participants into 2 groups – for and against the motion/topic
  10. The ‘ideal’ thing: “If you were to design the ideal luggage for air/train travel, how would it be? Don’t worry whether something is possible or not. Let your imagination flow”
The key is to know when to use these techniques and how to get respondents fully involved in the process. Subsequently, interpreting the response also calls for expertise.

Topics: Market Research

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