This blog post is a case summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies Inc. (RMS) a market research firm with a focus group facility in Syracuse NY.

Background: A local university was looking to conduct market research to better understand the best ad message(s) and placement opportunities for its spring 2014 media. The university partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) to learn more about target market preferences and decisions of two specific audiences: (1) a group of participants that recently made an inquiry to the university and (2) a group of participants that did not make an inquiry to the university but was interested in pursuing continuing education at some point in the near future.

focus group facility syracuse ny

Approach: RMS conducted two qualitative focus groups at QualiSight in Syracuse NY. The first of the two sessions was conducted at 5:30 PM and the second one was at 7:30 PM. Each lasted 90 minutes in length. A total of 28 participants were recruited to seat 8 to 10 for each session. Participants were offered $50 as an incentive and thank you for participating. RMS worked with the university to create a moderator’s guide with participation packet for the focus groups. A total of 10 separate ads were tested in the group (2 television, 2 radio, 4 print, and 2 web).

Results: Here were a few key findings from the market research study:

  • Perceived barriers to continuing education named by focus group participants included a lack of money, lack of time, the belief that attaining the degree will take too long, lack of childcare, and having a spouse in the military. Age appears to be a perceived barrier to many in the non-inquiry group. Survey respondents confirmed that both (56%) and (26%) were the two largest barriers to pursuing a degree part-time.
  • The motivations cited by participants in the focus groups (prior to seeing any ads) for seeking a degree part-time largely matched the appeals in the various ads presented. People in both groups named career advancement, attaining personal goals, or finding a better job as reasons they would be interested in pursuing a degree.
  • In the focus groups, reaction to the 30-second TV spot was generally positive. It was described as “dramatic” and “inspiring.”

Following the focus groups, RMS created a customized online panel survey that inquired about usage and perceptions of messaging in the ads to acquire more quantitative data. The full market research report explored eight different main themes with detailed supporting data for each, and a section-by-section summary of the participation packet and survey data.

If you would like to conduct ad testing or any type of focus group project at our focus group facility in Syracuse NY, contact our Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at or by calling 315-635-9802.