Participants in the focus group interview are brought together because they possess certain characteristics related to the subject under study. While using focus groups can be an effective qualitative research method, these types of interviews are not conducive for all types of research generation.
However, focus groups are not a thing of the past and remain an effective way to research current and prospective customers. However, the groups will need to incorporate new and cheaper technology to stay relevant.
Though there are many emerging tools and methods that will reduce the use of traditional and online focus groups, they still remain viable tools for expanding insights.
Passive listening methods, such as social media analytics and the mining of behavioral data, are the largest challenges to traditional research methods in general and focus groups in particular. However, while these methods often uncover wrinkles in consumer thinking and behavior, they struggle to answer why consumers believe or behave in those ways. Focus groups are very useful in exploring the “why” of consumer opinion and behavior.
Moreover, focus groups have evolved over time and continue to do so. For example, a significant amount of focus-group work is conducted online, reducing travel and facility rental costs. In addition, many focus groups are conducted within proprietary online communities, sometimes called MROCs, or market research online communities, built by companies such as Communispace. This trend is sure to continue, and, in an interesting twist, we can expect crowdsourcing platforms such as IdeaScale to add focus group features over time.
While traditional and online focus groups may decline in relative terms as a research methodology, they are likely to remain a valid option for years to come.
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