The following blog post was written by Sara Cruz, Research Associate at RMS.

First, let’s define what a focus group facility means. A typical focus group facility is a space consisting of a customized setting. One example would be a conference room, where an observation room is connected to the focus group setting by a one-way mirror. The one-way mirror allows professionals, analysts, or key stakeholders to observe the focus group interaction without disrupting the valuable guided discussion that ensues under the direction of a professional moderator. Now that you are clear about what a focus group facility is, let’s discuss what makes a focus group facility great.

Here are four key components of a great focus group facility:

#1 Convenience

Have you ever excitedly headed out to try the new restaurant that you heard about from your friend or colleague, only to have difficulty finding it? Unfortunately, followed by unexpected challenges finding parking? Not a great way to start out an evening, right?

Convenience is an essential quality of a great focus group facility. You want to use a focus group facility that is conveniently located, easy to find and provides ample, and safe parking for your participants.

Think about how your mood would reflect your difficult experience finding a new restaurant. Would you enjoy your dining experience as much as if you had not experienced challenges beforehand? Likely not.

This concept is the same for your participants. A convenient location with ample parking will help your participants feel at ease before they even enter the focus group facility. You don’t want anything to negatively impact your participant’s experience or distort the results from the data collected.

#2 Comfort

A great focus group facility provides comfort for the client and participants every step of the way. From the kindness and professionalism demonstrated during project planning and recruiting process, to the comfortable atmosphere while in the facility, you and your participants are truly cared for.

A great focus group facility demonstrates attention to detail. Everything will be planned and organized for flawless execution, allowing the participants, moderator, and viewers to follow along the process while feeling at ease. A great focus group facility has a welcoming ambiance, comfortable chairs, appropriate lighting, ample space, as well as provides drinks, food or snacks to make the participants more comfortable. Most focus groups can last 60–120 minutes. It is essential the participants and key stakeholders viewing are comfortable throughout the duration of the experience.

#3 Capabilities

Capabilities is the core reason that some focus groups are mediocre or good, while others are great. A great focus group facility demonstrates a broad and dynamic range of capabilities. It offers a full-service experience.

In addition to acting as the physical location to facilitate the in-person aspect of a market research project, a focus group facility also may provide services such as project management, project design, recruiting participants, recording sessions, transcriptions, live-streaming, moderating, as well as data analysis, recommendations, and reporting.

An ideal test market enhances the capabilities of the focus group facility. For example, Central New York’s Onondaga County has a long history as one of the nation’s top test markets, due to demographic representation of the United States as a whole. Think about the benefits your project would experience if the population in the backyard of the facility consisted of ideal recruits that could provide valuable insights. A great focus group facility may also have a vetted panel to recruit from, maximizing some of the focus group facility’s capabilities.

Now, I know what you might be thinking, “That’s sounds great, but I am not located close to a great focus group facility, but I want to see what happens during the focus group.” A great focus group facility can and will make that possible for you.

With the increase in technological advances, you can view the interaction of the focus group from anywhere. A good focus group facility will offer you the recorded sessions to view at your convenience, but a great focus group facility will offer you the opportunity to watch the focus groups in real-time from anywhere in the world, FocusVisionTM for example, as well as provide recordings.

Throughout the guided conversation with participants, the moderator can always be in contact with the client. Think about how valuable it would be to be able to watch your focus group in real-time and relay follow-up questions that you would like asked based on the ebb and flow of the guided conversation. A great focus group facility will offer this technological and high-value capability from anywhere in world.

#4 Collaboration

A great focus group facility will provide the opportunity to work with you, not for you. A great team at a focus group facility helps set a focus group facility apart from the rest. A focus group is a living, breathing project, especially since it involves real people’s real preferences and insights.

As discussed earlier, capabilities are an important aspect of a great focus group, and part of a focus group’s capabilities rely on the knowledge and wisdom of the staff, but a great focus group facility’s staff with become an integral part of your team. A great focus group facility consists of a team who wants you to succeed as much as you do, and who will work with you to collaborate on your project. The team of a great facility wants to know your thoughts and ideas, and they will always include you in every step of the process.

They will provide their expertise and knowledge to improve the quality and execution of your project overall, but they maintain a collaborative attitude and demonstrate their commitment to your company, your team, and your project.

In conclusion, there are many focus group facilities available to host your future market research projects, but they are not all the same. Remember to consider the importance of convenience, comfort, capabilities, and collaboration when you are looking to conduct a focus group. A great facility provides you with a front row seat to your customer’s experience in a controlled and professional setting. Choosing a facility that demonstrates great attributes will give you an advantage while seeking and receiving answers to your toughest questions.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located near Syracuse, New York. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Vice President of Corporate Development at or by calling 866.567.5422.