Focus group discussions as a research tool


Within qualitative research there are various methods by which certain behaviors, expectations or attitudes of people can be determined. One of these are the focus group discussions. It is a moderated  discussion with mutual exchange of opinions on a specific (main)topic. During this discussion process, not only the individual behavior comes to surface but also group dynamic aspects. By the stimulation of the group one’s own position may evolve.

Objectives and areas of application
Using this methodology, individual opinions and public attitudes, thoughts and associations come to the fore, spontaneous reactions or emotionally worn statements may be observed and arguments are discharged. Focus groups are used in various fields. Thus, for example preferences for existing products can be tested, attitudes towards brands, brand loyalty, repeat purchase, buying motives and advertising are revealed. Additionally, ideas about new or existing products and services can be developed in the group.

Preparation and implementation
The timeline should be set to 1-2 hours because after that the concentration of the participants may decline sharply. The group should contain 6 – 10 participants. In smaller groups the flow of discussion and group process may not get under way. In bigger groups there is risk that individual contributions may get a raw deal due to time constraints. The groups and participants should be pre-selected and acquired according to a fixed scheme (homogeneous vs. heterogeneous, according to certain characteristics etc.).
A prepared questionnaire gives orientation to the discussion leader and makes possible certain comparability between the groups. The discussions will be recorded in writing and by audio or video technology.

In practice
Just recently, COMPASS has conducted seven focus group discussions on mobility. In consultation with the client, we have done the acquisition of subjects, developed the questionnaire, carried out the discussions and summarized the results in a final report. This qualitative method was part of a larger EU project for environmentally friendly mobility.

Further market research methods can be found under


Das Team von COMPASS widmet sich in diesem Blog inhaltlich den übergeordneten Themen Marketingbüro, Europa, Tourism & Peace, Nachhaltigkeit und Marktforschung.

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