Top Tips for Running Excellent Focus Groups

At Marketing Sciences Unlimited we have been through the highs and the lows of running focus groups with consumers and b2b respondents. We would like to share with you our top tips for running excellent focus groups to help you get the most out of your research.






Set the scene at the beginning of the group, be clear about what is happening, what is expected, and a brief order of events.



Don’t let the guide be your master, flex and adapt according to the conversation in the room.  If the conversation develops in a certain direction, maintain the energy and go with it.



Watch respondents’ body language as they talk to that you get a greater sense of the emotional response as well as the oral one.  Leaning forward and use of hand gestures indicate passion and commitment, laid back stance indicates a lesser intensity of opinion.



It sounds obvious, but take time to listen carefully and follow up on interesting ones. Participants like to think their ideas are important and may be acted on.



Following from listening, it is helpful to return to comments and suggestions later in the group, as this makes people feel more valued and demonstrates that you are interested in what they have to say.



You may have heard the same arguments or justifications for why consumers do something in a certain way, but often that is the first time that particular consumer has put that thought process together. It is your duty to act like it has not been said before and to give them the time and consideration to put their thoughts together. One thing we can say about our Qualitative team here at Marketing Sciences Unlimited is that their energy can be infectious!



Conversation between participants – those are the conversations brands want to hear as they are the most spontaneous, and often result in the most interesting elements of the focus group – they also give the moderator time to relax their vocal cords.



Encourage disagreement, it is important to understand the strength of opinion.  But manage this carefully so that it does not get out of hand.



At the end of the session, summarise the discussion and confirm that your interpretations are correct.  This is a great way to kick start the analysis process.



An enthusiastic moderator, loving their job, is an important aspect of the group and translates to the respondents.  A good group should always contain laughter!


If you’d like to know more about running excellent focus groups, or would interested in harnessing the benefits of qualitative research to address your business problems, get in touch.


Sunita Bhabra is a research director and one of our experienced and enthusiastic qualitative researchers at Marketing Sciences Unlimited.

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Sunita Bhabra
01962 842211
Article date - 04/06/2017
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