Strategic Research Associates Blog :: Whose Focus, Whose Group? The People who make Focus Groups Succeed

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Whose Focus, Whose Group? The People who make Focus Groups Succeed

For Focus Groups, clients choose the research and hire researchers to organize the research who recruit participants to create results which inform the clients.

We’ve talked a little about the people involved in focus groups, but only in the vaguest of terms, participants, clients, and of course us, the researchers. Who are these people really, and what are their roles?

The Client: Decides What to Research

The client is the person or company that decides they need a focus group in the first place. Possibly they don’t even know they need a group, maybe they just know they have a question they want answered and decided to contact some researchers to find out how to find an answer.

Usually the client gives the researcher (in this case Strategic Research Associates) some idea of what they want to find out and who they want to find it out from. This can be as detailed as an in-depth focus group guide or as vague as a general idea which the Strategic Research Associates team fleshes out into a detailed group discussion guide for client approval.

Clients have a pretty good idea of who they want to see in groups, often people who use their products and services, people they hope might use them in the future, or people with specific interests. We also want to be sure the people in the group are diverse in age and other demographic factors. The specifics of group participant guidelines can vary as much as the groups themselves do. But the one constant is that the client makes the decisions. The client decides to do the research, and (with a little help from the researcher) decides the specifics of the research.

The Researchers: Organize and Conduct the Research

After the client has decided to conduct research, they hire a research company, such as Strategic Research Associates. These companies are responsible for organizing the research, and making sure everything runs smoothly. At the start of the project the researcher works with the client to gather all the details about how to conduct the research and with whom. Once the researcher has a date, time, and defined participant guidelines (rules for who to recruit) we find a place to host the group. For Strategic Research Associates this is often one of our two focus group facilities in Spokane and Federal Way, Washington. We also do projects off-site which requires booking of a facility (often a hotel or conference center) for use of their space. Once the project is all figured out recruiting begins.

Some companies, such as Strategic Research Associates, have in-house calling centers to recruit participants (as opposed to hiring out the calling to another company). This allows us more control over the project to ensure we recruit the right people for each group. This way if anyone calls back, we can redirect them to the person they talked to before and answer all questions. Strategic Research Associates is a fairly small company, so chances are you will talk to the same people for multiple research opportunities.

After recruiting is complete our research admin, you may know her as April, calls all participants to double check a couple of their answers and confirm their attendance. A focus group host represents the research company at the group. The host greets participants and clients, directs everyone where to go, and keeps everything running smoothly. Depending on the project the moderator may be one of the research company or client’s staff, or an independent researcher. The moderator is the person who leads the group and keeps things on track.

The Participants: Are the Research

Focus groups bring together a group of people to ask your opinions on a particular topic, service, or product. By listening to these opinions companies can incorporate your feedback to make their products and services the best they can be. That is why the participants are the most important factor in research. There are no wrong opinions in focus groups, we just hope that all our participants come ready to discuss and express any opinions they form during the group, ready to be courteous to their fellow participants, and have fun!

Every person involved in our research is important from clients to the participants, and we always need more. If your interested in participating please, sign up now. To learn more check out the next post in this series, How we group: The Focus Group Recruiting Process.