We began this week’s discussion of focus group participation with a look at how to effectively manage group dynamics. Of course, encouraging the active engagement of your respondents goes beyond group selection and dynamics management.
Once you have a skilled moderator in place and have taken the time to balance the composition of your group, you have to be sure you’re asking the right questions.
First of all, in order to ensure that all participants are comfortable in the focus group environment, it’s important to explain that there are no “right” answers or viewpoints. Experience shows that many people have a tendency to shut down or adjust their responses if they aren’t part of a consensus. Be sure to convey to every member of the group that consensus is not the goal of your marketing research project.
Once you’ve set the tone for your marketing research project, it’s time to start asking questions. This isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds. Our decades of experience coordinating and conducting focus groups nationwide has taught us that, when it comes to encouraging respondent participation, not all questions are created equal. Here are a few tips and pointers to help you and your moderator formulate the most responsive focus group questions possible:
- Leave your questions open ended. This allows participants to tell the story in their own words and encourages discussion among all members of your group.
- Avoid asking “yes or no” questions. Single word responses don’t yield the sort of valuable, in-depth qualitative responses that you should be looking for.
- Avoid using quantifiers like “How much …” or “How often …” since these sorts of questions naturally limit the responses of your participants.
For more tips and suggestions to help you encourage focus group participation, check back in to the FPG blog later this week or click on the button below to schedule a consultation with one of the experts at Focus Pointe Global.
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In our last post, we talked about the importance of protecting focus group respondent identities and feedback during the focus group session. Equally important is the protection of client confidentiality.
In order to elicit the valuable respondent opinions and feedback that inform your clients’ product or service development, it is often necessary to share proprietary information, intellectual property and other sensitive data. In many cases, this information consists of features and details that may not yet have been released to the general public. That’s why it’s essential that you protect your clients’ interests by asking all focus group participants to sign a non-disclosure statement like the sample agreement below:
[INSERT RESPONDENT NAME] hereby agrees to maintain the confidentiality of the information discussed by all participants and researchers during the focus group session.
NOTE: If you cannot agree to the above stipulation please see the researcher(s) as you may be ineligible to participate in this study.
The only problem with requiring respondents to sign non-disclosure agreements like the one above is that it may discourage open participation for some individuals. Another way to protect client confidentiality and protect intellectual property is to provide a confidentiality incentive. Offer your focus group respondents a benefit of some sort in exchange for keeping the results of your marketing research project quiet.
Of course, whether you offer the carrot or the stick (incentives or threat of legal action) in exchange for participant confidentiality, ideas have a way of getting out. After all, if your focus group can come up with a unique solution or idea, what’s to keep a competitor’s focus group from reaching the same conclusion? In order to avoid this phenomenon, it’s a good idea to focus your marketing research project on determining the pains and needs of your respondents rather than developing the solutions to those pains and needs.
For more helpful advice on how to maintain focus group confidentiality, stay tuned to the FPG blog or click on the button below to schedule a consultation with one of the experts at Focus Pointe Global.
Check back later in the week to learn about how to maintain focus group confidentiality in the age of social media. If you’d like this and all future Focus Pointe Global blog posts sent directly to you, simply enter your email address in the field to the right to subscribe.