A main-stay of marketing research, In-person focus groups offer the benefit of “face-to-face” conversation and group dynamics, allowing researchers to read the tone, facial expressions and reactions of participants.
Moderators work to establish rapport and guide the conversation of the group (usually 5-10) in an effort to get real, honest, and sometimes raw opinions of participants. Moderators attempt to read between the lines of the discussion, because sometimes, the big insight lies in what is not said. Also, through the use of projective techniques, which are sometimes difficult to execute online, moderators can gain a deeper understanding of participants’ feelings and motivations.
Observers are often present behind a two way mirror, observing facial expressions, gauging reactions, and taking notes.
Respondents are pre-recruited by the facility. In-person focus groups usually meet for 1 ½ to 2 hours. This type of focus group is a great tool for learning the “why” behind your consumers’ motivations and decision-making.
In-person focus groups work well for:
- Product or concept perception and testing
- Exploring a brand’s image
- Advertising messaging tests
- Pricing tests
- Customer satisfaction
- Controlling secrecy of prototypes or mock ups before they’re public
Weaknesses & Limitations
- Geography may be a limiting factor, unless travel budgets are deep
- Dominant respondents can influence and bias the discussion; they can be difficult to remove or control.
- Not ideal for sensitive subject matter
- Focus Group facilities do not reflect the natural environments where goods and services are consumed and experienced, sometimes causing respondents to intellectualize and rationalize discussions.