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From recruitment to results gathering, Focus Pointe Global offers the most accurately targeted and successful focus group coordination in the entire industry. Witness your company's success in action at one of our luxuriously appointed meeting spaces.

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From recruitment to results gathering, Focus Pointe Global offers the most accurately targeted and successful focus group coordination in the entire industry. Witness your company's success in action at one of our luxuriously appointed meeting spaces.

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From recruitment to results gathering, Focus Pointe Global offers the most accurately targeted and successful focus group coordination in the entire industry. Witness your company's success in action at one of our luxuriously appointed meeting spaces.

Schedule A Check Pointe Recruitment Consultation

7 Pros and Cons of Conducting Focus Groups Online

 

Exponential increases in data processing and transmission speeds over the past decade have changed the face of the focus group industry. The ability to remotely access a wide array of demographics and respondent communities virtually instantaneously has led to rapid advances in both quantitative and qualitative online marketing research practices. As a result, many focus group coordinators have begun to rely increasingly on MROCs (Marketing Research Online Communities) for the execution of their research projects.

Of course, as with any new technology-driven process, MROCs have both proponents and detractors within the industry. That’s why we’ve compiled the following list of 7 pros and cons to help you weigh the benefits and decide whether an online focus group is right for your next research project.

PROS

 CONS

1) Increased Reach
MROCs make it easy to attract and recruit respondents from anywhere in the world that has Internet access, allowing you to screen according to the most critical factors without restricting your search geographically.

1) Moderator Limitations
A skilled moderator does much more than just ask questions. He or she uses a number of proven techniques to engage, energize and direct focus group conversations, gathering the most targeted data possible. Many of these key techniques and interactions simply aren't possible through a computer screen, drastically restricting the moderator's traditional role as focus group guide.

2) Convenience
Since travel time is eliminated and participants can join from the convenience of their home or office, online focus groups also help you reach individuals who might not otherwise have time in their busy schedules.

2) Distractions
When you conduct your focus group online, there is no guarantee that your respondents are not multi-tasking or otherwise dividing their attentions over the course of each session. If participants are watching television, doing work or having conversations during your marketing research project, that distraction can have a serious impact on the final results.

3) Anonymity
Online focus groups allow respondents to remain completely anonymous to their peers and fellow participants. This results in more open and honest responses, especially when your marketing research project deals with sensitive social, cultural or personal issues.

3) Security Concerns
In a traditional face-to-face focus group, you know exactly who your respondents are. You've conducted careful screening and matched their names and faces to their responses. With online focus groups, it is more difficult to verify whether or not your participants are the same individuals you've spent so much time recruiting and verifying.

4) Detailed Data
Since MROC participants can respond to moderator questions simultaneously with more detailed written answers, researchers have the ability to gather a greater depth of information from each individual respondent.

4) No More Non-Verbal Responses
Experienced moderators will pick up on non-verbal responses from focus group participants while conducting and analyzing in-person marketing research sessions. Unfortunately, it's just not possible to pick up on critical non-verbal indicators like facial expressions, tone of voice, hand gestures and body language when conducting your focus group online.

5) Bias Reduction
By conducting focus groups remotely online and interacting directly with each respondent, you drastically reduce a number of biases and influences that affect participant responses, including age, race, gender, personality, facial expressions and more.

5) Group Dynamics
With traditional, face-to-face focus groups, researchers often gather valuable data from the discussions and group dynamics that arise between respondents. Without these group dynamics to inform the conversation, you may be missing out on valuable insights and informative interactions.

6) Improved Client/Moderator Communication
A well-conducted online focus group allows clients to observe and discuss the results internally as they unfold and also provide the moderator with input, guidance and questions without interrupting respondent discussions.

6) Reduced Client Involvement
Monitoring focus group participants through a computer screen doesn't provide clients with the same level of direct interface. When it comes to the objective observation of consumer behavior and opinions, nothing can replace the firsthand experience of watching a focus group unfold through a one-way mirror.

7) Cost Reduction
By eliminating the need to provide compensation for travel expenses, hotel accommodations, audio/video recording equipment, transcription services, refreshments and more, online focus groups allow you to extend your research budget significantly.

7) Lack of Direct Participation
One of the most important roles a focus group plays in the marketing research process is to provide participants with the opportunity to interact with a new product, prototype or service directly. Even if your MROC is video-equipped, this sort of direct physical contact simply isn't possible in an online focus group environment.

Hopefully, the pros and cons above provide you with a more balanced view to help you decide whether a traditional in-person or online focus group environment is right for your next marketing research project. Both methods are perfectly valid and, when properly matched to your objectives, should result in the highly targeted data results you’re looking for.
 
To learn more about MROCs or for help deciding which focus group methodology is best for your next marketing research project, click here to schedule a consultation with an FPG Pointe Person.

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