Focus Groups

The Research & Planning Group has conducted focus group research for hundreds of clients all over the world. If you are interested in conducting focus group research, you should contact us - we can help you decide if they're the right methodology for your informational needs!

What are Focus Groups?

Focus groups are one of the most widely-used methods of qualitative research, and with good reason – they allow researchers to collect a large variety of data in a short period of time while the client sits behind the scenes and observes. Focus groups are great for gathering general reactions to questions and for studying reactions to diverse opinions.

Focus groups can be set up in many ways, but they generally involve bringing between six to twelve respondents together in a physical room, on a conference call, or a virtual online “room” and having a moderator sit with them and ask questions. At the end of the session, clients are able to have the moderator ask additional questions to probe the attitudes, ideas and interests of group members.

There are many varieties of focus groups, and each method has its own advantages. Ultimately, focus groups are about discussion. Respondents are asked to offer their own opinions about topics under study, but they are also asked to respond to the ideas that others are offering.

One of the advantages of focus groups is that each group can include a different makeup of respondents to ensure that multiple perspectives are considered. In order to generate useful data, we recommend that at least two groups are used for any variation. (This helps to alleviate concerns about bias specific to an individual group.)

Traditional Focus Groups

A traditional focus group involves bringing participants into a physical room somewhere (either in a professional research facility, a hotel conference room, or some other location of the client’s choosing), sitting around a table, and having a discussion. Clients typically observe from behind one-way glass or a live video feed. Audio and video recordings are also made for those who cannot attend.


Telephone Focus Groups

A telephone focus group involves bringing participants into a special telephone conference call. The moderator uses a computerized dashboard to see who is speaking and to keep the discussion under control. Observers are also able to dial in and listen to the call with muted lines.


Social Network Focus Group

Also known as “focus blogs,” this style of focus group allows respondents to participate at their own convenience. Each respondent is given access to a special Web site where they are required to answer questions posed by a moderator over several days. Respondents are also able to respond with images, links to outside Web sites, videos and other rich media. Observers log in at any time and watch the conversation unfold.


Online Video Focus Group

An online video focus group involves bringing four to eight people into a special video chat session using a Web-enabled computer, a webcam and a telephone. Observers log in to a special dashboard and are able to watch the group and offer real-time comments to the moderator.



At the Research & Planning Group, we can help you with your focus group needs. Of course, that’s not all we do! If you’d like to view a complete catalog of our services, we have one available! You can read the online version here, or you can download a printable PDF version here.