What is a Focus Group?

In a focus group, a moderator interviews several people at the same time. A typical focus group comprises six to 12 people (participants), but smaller groups can also be held.

The reason that focus groups are held is to create and observe group dynamics. Group discussions stimulate dynamic conversations, which lead to discovery, exploration, direction, and insights regarding specific topics. Focus group sessions typically last between one and two hours: the length of a group will depend on the specific goals and the number of topics.

Usually, a focus group research project consists of two to ten groups, although there can be more. The number of focus groups varies and depends on

  • research goals
  • number of topics
  • segments
  • schedule
  • budget

It is recommended that at least two groups be conducted.

There are three ways to conduct a focus group: face-to-face, online, or by telephone. In each of these, moderators direct a free-flowing discussion about topics of interest such as products, services, brands, and advertisements.

Focus groups usually occur in specially designed facilities where the rooms have one-way mirrors allowing managers and executives to listen to and observe the participants. The rooms also typically include audio and video recording equipment.

A moderator asks questions, follows up with more questions, and keeps the conversation on track. A good focus group moderator makes focus group moderating look simple, yet it requires moderating skill and practice to do well.