Strategic Research Associates Blog :: Focus Groups, Mock Trials, and What they’re all About

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Focus Groups, Mock Trials, and What they’re all About

Focus groups have 2-6 groups per project, 8-12 participants per group, and 24-200 hours spent calling, mock trials have 1 group, 18-45 participants, and 120-250 hours spent calling

Focus groups can be an excellent resource for any business to explore consumer opinions. Yet we also see nonprofits or legal teams that need to better understand public opinion around a specific issue in addition to consumer and product testing. When focus groups have a legal focus they referred to as mock trials. All mock trials are focus groups but not all focus groups are mock trials.

The main difference between focus groups and mock trials is the topics they discuss. Where focus groups tend to be a discussion about products, services, or opinions, mock trials are discussions groups about social issues or legal cases. Mock trials often even ask for the participants to think of themselves to be jury members deliberating on an important social or legal issue. After any group, no matter the type, we always get emails from participants about how fun or interesting the experience was. We love getting these comments.

While there may be several focus groups about a single topic there is typically only one mock trial event. Focus groups usually have 8-12 participants while a mock trial will have 18-45, which are split up into 2-3 mini groups for discussion. Because there tends to be multiple focus groups about one topic the number of people recruited to join is comparable.

No matter the number, we gather recruits for either group type in a similar way. Recruiting is completed in house either via random calling or from our database. Many projects have specific guidelines as to who can participate. For all projects details are confidential and you are not allowed to talk about the details of your focus group outside the room. You actually have to sign a confidentiality agreement when you participate in research studies.

Similarities:
  • Group Discussions
  • Database or Random Calling recruitment
  • Host at either our focus group facilities or off-site
Differences:
  • Number of Groups
  • Length of Group
  • Topic

The time we spend recruiting all depends on the specific screening requirements of the group and who we are working for. Focus groups take about 24-200 hours of calling to recruit an entire project (which may include multiple groups) while mock trials tend to take 120-250 hours. That’s a lot of calling!

When a client wants to compare demographics such as location or jobs of participants multiple focus groups may take place at multiple locations or times. These comparison groups can take place at one of our two professional focus group facilities or off-site (at a hotel, event space, etc.). When we host our groups off-site, at a hotel for example, we strive to mimic the experience of our facilities. For both types of groups we pay participants for their time.

Really, focus groups and mock trials are essentially the same; just sometimes we call them by different names.

Come back in two weeks when we’ll talk about where we do research. Here’s a hint, it’s near you.

Focus groups have 2-6 groups per project, 8-12 participants per group, and 24-200 hours spent calling, mock trials have 1 group, 18-45 participants, and 120-250 hours spent calling

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