This is Part 2 of a 2-part series; to read Part 1, click here.

Running a focus group can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve put together this list of ten key areas to focus on. If you missed the first part of this series, click here to read it.

6. Get consensus on the guide

The guide is the blueprint for the discussion.  It should show a deep knowledge of the objectives and how the conversation will gather the learning needed.  The Team should all be comfortable with the types of questions and the flow of the guide well before the day of the groups.  A meeting/call to review it is helpful as is a run through prior to respondents coming into the room.  By following this procedure, there will be no surprises.

7. Demand Day Groups

Think of your day … you get up early for work, get the kids off to school, there’s traffic, you work a full day and, at the end of all that you are going to focus groups. Are you really in the mood to sit in a room and chat for 90 minutes with a bunch of strangers at that point?  Are you going to be your best self at that time of the day?  Most likely the answer is no.  Many moderators and facilities will push back on this; it is a more difficult recruit and a bit more expensive.  However, with daytime qualitative, consumers are more alert, work harder for you and, best of all, the back room is awake, alert and the groups and debrief are over by 6pm at the latest.

8. Get there with plenty of time 

It is critical to make sure the room has everything needed to make the groups run smoothly (video set ups, internet connections, temperature, easel pads, markers, pads of paper, etc…) Get to the facility an hour ahead of time to run through the guide and the stimulus to make sure all are comfortable with the objectives, the flow and stimulus.  Make the room comfortable and welcoming for respondents.

9. Conduct the groups

If everything has been done well leading up to the groups, once the respondents arrive it is the moderator’s duty to ensure the learnings are achieved.  The room should feel like a group of friends talking about a shared interest.  The guide should be used as just that; something that guides but does not dictate the conversation. The moderator must be flexible to follow lines of conversation that may be fruitful but cut off areas that are out of scope … all without disrupting the bond that is created.  At the end, respondents should walk away energized and engaged and the Team should have had all objectives met.

10. Make sure to debrief

It is critical, at the end of the project, to get everyone in the room to discuss what was discussed and heard.  The goal will be to walk out of the research with consensus of the learnings and what should be done moving forward.

While none of this is set in stone, these key areas have created the foundation of the work we do at IIM and, after 27 years of qualitative, they have proven to be a formula for success. To find out more about how we can help you, click here to contact us.