The disadvantages of focus groups may be summarized by the five M’s:
1. Misuse: Focus groups can be misused and abused by considering the results as conclusive rather than exploratory.
2. Misjudge: Focus group results can be more easily misjudged than the results of other darn collection techniques. Focus groups are particularly susceptible to client and researcher biases.
3. Moderation: Focus groups are difficult to moderate. Moderators with all the desirable skills are rare. The quality of the results depends heavily on the skills of the moderator,
4. Messy: The unstructured nature of the responses makes coding, analysis, and interpretation difficult. Focus group data tend to be messy.
5. Misrepresentation: Focus group results are not representative of the general population and are not project able. Consequently, focus group results should ‘not be the sole basis for decision making
Applications of Focus Groups
Focus groups are being used extensively for profit, nonprofit, and all types of organizations.They can be used in almost any situation requiring some preliminary understanding and insights, as illustrated in the baby-boomer, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, and Kool-Aid examples. We will discuss some substantive and methodological applications that represent the wide range of use of his technique Focus “m’Jp” can be used submissive issues such as
1. Understanding consumers’ receptions, preferences, and behave concerning a product category
2. Obtaining impressions of new product concepts
3. Generating new ideas about older products
4 Developing creative concepts and copy material for advertisements
5. Securing price impressions
6. Obtaining preliminary consumer reaction to specific marketing programs The methodological applications of focus groups include:
1. Defining a problem more precisely
2. Generating alternative courses of canon
3. Developing an approach to a problem
4. Obtaining information helpful in structuring consumer questionnaires
5. Generating hypotheses that can be.tested quantitatively
6. Interpreting previously obtained quantitative results
Gatorade From a Sports Drink to a Lifestyle Drink
Management would like to transform Gatorade fro.n a sports drink to a lifestyle drink. Visit and search the Internet using a search engine as well as your library’s online databases to obtain information on the marketing strategy of Gatorade energy drinks.
1. Prepare a focus group discussion guide for determining the reasons why people consume Gatorade drinks and what would lead them to consume more Gatorade.
2. Conduct a focus group of 8 to 12 students using your discussion guide.
3. Prepare a focus group topline report for Gatorade management
Online Focus Group Interviews
As in the case of traditional focus groups, online focus group participation is by invitation only . The respondents are prerecruited, generally from an online list cf people who have expressed aninterest in participating. A screening questionnaire is administered online to qualify the respondents. Those who qualify are invited to participate in a focus group; they a time, a URL, a room name, and a password via e-mail. Generally, four to six people participate in the online group, There are fewer people in’ an online focus group than in a face-to-face meeting because too many voices can confuse the discussion.
Before the focus group begins, participants receive information about the focus group that covers such things as how to express emotions when typing. Electronic emotion indicators are produced using keyboard characters and are standard in their use on the Internet. For example, and are examples of smiling and sad faces. The emotions are usually inserted in the text at the point at which the emotion is felt. Emotions can also be expressed using a different font or color. There is a wide range of emotions to choose from, such as: I’m frowning, I’m laughing to myself, I’m embarrassed, I’m mad now, I’m responding passionately now, and so on. This is then followed by the response. The participants can also preview information about the focus group topic by visiting a Web site and reading. information or downloading and viewing an actual TV ad on their PCs. Then, just before the focus group begins, participants visit a Web site where they log on and get some last-minute instructions.
When it is time for the group, they move into a Web-based chat room. They go to the focus group location (URL) and click on the “Enter Focus Room” item. To enter, they must supply the room ‘lame, user name, and password that was e-mailed to them earlier. In the chat room the moderator and the participants type to each other in real time. The general practice is for the moderators to always pose their questions in all capital letters and the respondents
are asked to, use upper and lower case. The respondents are also asked to always start their response with the question number, so the moderator can quickly tie the response to the proper question. This makes it fast and easy to transcribe a focus group seSSIOn. The group interaction lasts for about an hour. A raw transcript is available as soon as the group is completed, and a formatted transcript is available within 48 hours. The whole process is much faster than the traditional method. Examples of companies that provide online focus groups include com Score Survey Site Harris Interactive and Burke .New forms of online focus groups continue to emerge. For example, online bulletin board focus groups involve the moderator and the respondents over an extended period of time, from a few days to a few weeks. Thus, respondents can think and respond at their own convenience. An example is SurveySite’s FocusSite for holding an in-depth discussion among 25 or more participants over an extended period of time. Participants enter the discussion several times over a 1- to 2-day period, depending on research.objectives. The extended time period allows respondents to react to, and build upon, each other’s ideas in a way that is often not possible during a typical focus -group session that lasts from I to 3 hours
Advantages of Online Focus Groups
People from all over the country or even the world can participate, and the client can observe the group from the convenience of the home or office. Geographical constraints are removed and time constraints are lessened. Unlike traditional focus groups, you have the unique opportunity to contact group participants again at a later date, to revisit issues, or introduce them to modifications in material presented in the original focus group. The Internet enables the researcher to reach segments that are usually hard to interview: doctors, lawyers, professionals, working mothers, and others who lead busy lives and are not interested in taking part in traditional focus groups.
Disadvantages of Online Focus Groups
Only people that have and know how to use a computer can be surveyed online. Since the name of an individual on the Internet is often private, actually verifying that a respondent is a member of a target group is difficult. This is illustrated in a cartoon in The New Yorker, where two dogs are seated at a computer and one says to the other, “On the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog!” To overcome this limitation, other traditional methods such as telephone calls are used for recruitment and verification of respondents. Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice cannot be obtained and electron: – emotions obviously do not capture as full a breadth of emotion as videotaping.
Another factor that must be considered is the lack of general control over the respondent’s environment and their potential exposure to distracting external stimuli. Since online focus groups could potentially have respondents scattered all over the world, the researchers and moderator(s) have no idea what else the respondents may be doing while participating in the group. Only audio and visual stimuli can be tested. Products cannot be touched (e.g., clothing) or smelled (e.g., perfumes). It is difficult to get the clients as involved in online focus groups as they are in observiag traditional focus groups. Table 5.3 presents a comparison of online and traditional focus groups.