Sometimes a company knows there’s a problem, but they just can’t pinpoint exactly what it is.  People often prematurely ask the question, how do we find a resolution to this problem?  The real question they should be asking is: what is the problem?

With this issue, exploratory market research triumphs.  RMS finds exploratory research useful to gaining insight and helping to discover and recognize the problem that exists.   There are a few ways to go about exploratory research but conducting focus groups is one of the most effective.  Virtually every single industry can use a focus group as a resource to benefit from.  We came up with a few good reasons why focus groups are useful for exploratory research:

  1. Digging deeper into responses. Having the audience right in front of you allows the moderator to delve farther into the participant’s thoughts, exploring their follow-up ideas and opinions.  If someone brings up a certain point, you may want to have them elaborate.
  2. Presenting new ideas and thoughts on a topic. The open-style of discussion lends itself to being an excellent source of finding out new or not previously thought of information, which those conducting the research may not have thought of.  It allows fresh ideas to rise.
  3. Clarifying questions and topics. Focus groups are set up in a way that allows a full explanation of an issue or topic.  The use of visual aids and presentations is something that can be used advantageously to further your research capabilities.
  4. Encouraging Social Interaction. A focus group setting naturally encourages interaction between participants and gets people talking.  The group discussion setting gives participants motivation to share their thoughts, and upon hearing other’s comments, the participants may have an opposing or supporting viewpoint to expand on.  We usually find participants leave quite surprised with how fun and entertaining the discussion was. In this sense, this is why a focus group is an excellent venue to encourage active participation.
  5. Analyzing a Group consensus. Being able to probe participants individually is certainly a benefit of qualitative research, but during a focus group you can ask a question of the group as a whole to see if the respondents can come to an agreement, or if it’s a topic that everyone feels differently on.  Not only can you get the individual’s thought, but the whole group’s thoughts on the topic.
  6. Studying respondent attitudes – the overall picture. Viewing the respondent and the group’s mood and attitude over the course of a focus group allows for a complete understanding of the topic, revealing the problems at hand.

Using a focus group to perform exploratory research is a great first step to solving a problem and moving a company forward.  By learning more about a topic/problem at a focus group, it opens up the option of having the research team follow-up with a more effective and targeted study (usually quantitative).  After a well-executed exploratory research focus group, research and strategic goals will be clearer.

Here at Research & Marketing Strategies, we provide full services for focus group research.  If you are interested in renting our focus group facility in Upstate New York or Central New York (Syracuse), contact Lauren Krell at (315)-635-9802.  Or maybe you are interested in beginning a qualitative study to conduct market research?  Contact Sandy Baker at (315)-635-9802.