Columbia University in the City of New York

Focus Groups: The Advantages And Disadvantages

In recent years, especially popular this method of marketing research as focus groups. One reason for the popularity of this method – recognition of the customer that, using only the polls on streets and house surveys can not always get the desired result. And indeed, during a street survey is very easy to get answers to the questions "I love – not love, I use them – do not drink, I read – not I read, I buy – do not buy "and others. In fact we get stats of what people enjoy, what are the preferences for goods and services. Quantitative statistics. But these answers, we would like to hear not from everybody, but only one people of a certain age, sex, social status. That is from our "target audience". And therefore need a focus group.

Focus group combines interviews, discussion and conversation and is usually held in specialized or adapted for this room, isolated at the time of her conduct from the external environment. The discussion of any subject of interest for the study, conducted in a group of seven to nine consumer representatives, one member – a moderator, a representative of the research agency, a specialist who knows the purpose and intent of the study. His task – through various means and methods to ensure that the discussions and participants' interest focused around his proposed value-semantic structures (threads, problems, things that way). If the moderator is doing everything right – there is an effect of group behavior. Begins to develop collective responses, during which one can observe the manifestation of typical collective motivations, opinions, affections. Most of the information obtained in the form of responses to questions or verbal verbal reactions to certain stimuli.

But a large part of individual and collective reactions is nonverbal in nature. This , kinetics, gestures, facial expressions – that unconsciously perceived by the participants discussions, especially visually. In the emotional reactions of the proportion of non-verbal component is very high. Given the importance of this component of the course of group discussions, watching from the outside. Observation is possible on a video monitor. A decision has also equipped the studio with special look-up facilities (viewing rooms), separate from their own premises, where there is a group discussion, semi-transparent mirror. Through his customer is watching the reactions of their consumers. Urgent business decision can be made by the Customer (on the basis of what he saw) directly in the viewing room. But the method of focus groups – not a panacea for all problems. This is just one of the methods of research. Moreover, there are studies for which this method – the most powerful, but there are those for which the method of focus groups generally contraindicated. A focus group will help if you: – to explore consumer attitudes products, brands, producers – to determine the buyer's reaction to advertising and PR-action – to identify "problem areas" of the product – to assess the compliance of an existing product market demands – to test a new product clients (if anything at all know) about your product or service. But do not try to conduct a focus group if: – the personal opinions vary so much that hard or impossible to obtain accurate and useful information (mode, music) – to gain an understanding of the socio-psychological aspects (role of women, attitudes toward work, the importance of motherhood) – target audience – people who are virtually impossible to gather at one time in one place.

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