Focus research, using the full name of the method, is a focus group interview. It is worth starting its description with the explanation of adjectives accompanying the word „interview”.

Let’s start with the term “focus” which means concentrated on one issue, one research topic that may be one of the products or some kind of a social issue. It’s important because if the interview touches on a lot of issues and topics it becomes a group technique (group interview).

„Group” refers to a specific set of people participating in the study. Of course, this is not a random group of people, as they are deliberately selected according to a certain key. Two kinds of criteria are used for this purpose. Some can be called universal or basic, and the other complementary or additional. The first of the criteria requires that focus participants must be, first of all, competent people who know the problem that is to be the subject of the study. Sometimes they are referred to as experts or experts in the problem. The second one forces the researcher to select people who do not know each other. Both of these criteria should be met in each focus, regardless of what the discussion will be about. The supplementary criterion, in turn, is to make the participants of the study differentiated according to the features that may potentially affect their views on a given matter. The point is that the research is to reflect the full spectrum of differentiation of opinions on a given topic. So if, for example, the study concerns a product, it can be presumed that the differences in opinions about it may depend on gender, age or financial situation, and these features will be additional criteria for the selection of respondents. In order to close this sequence of considerations, it is necessary to raise the question of the size of the studied group. The analysis of texts devoted to focusing shows that researchers assume different sizes. These suggestions show that the focus group should be between 5 and 12 people.

The term “focus” means concentrated on one issue, one research topic.

So, since we already know who we are testing, let’s say a few words about how the focus research works. What drives the discussion is the script. It is a set of dispositions that define not only the verbal behaviour of the moderator (the person conducting the research) but also his non-verbal behaviour. Therefore, his work consists not only in asking questions that are to provide the desired information, using additional techniques such as Chinese portraits, researching semantics but also using such behaviours that will be a source of inspiration for the focus participants. The moderator must therefore be an empathetic person who, by accepting or denying what the respondents say, will be able to create a synergy effect, which is in fact the main goal of the focus. It increases the effect thanks to cooperation, more vividly speaking, we are able to obtain more information thanks to it than if we had received it from all participants of the study separately. This added value is therefore the main advantage of group techniques over individual techniques. These inspirations are usually obtained by the moderator through the implementation of the function of a fatal speech, and thus through the ability to establish and, very importantly, maintain contacts.

The result, i.e. the final product of the focus, is a report. It arises from the analysis of the record of the course of the study. The moderator, because he is the creator of this document, aims to include in it all the information that is the implementation of the information sought. Reports usually have a fairly uniform structure and consist of three main parts:

  1. Information about the research (research purpose, research participants, scenario, applied research procedures)
  2. Presentation of the research results. It is implemented according to the thematic structure adopted in the scenario. So if, for example, the subject of the research was a product, and the scenario firstly provides for the research of how it is perceived, then how it is assessed, etc., then in the report the descriptions of these thematic segments will appear in the same order. The development, arrangement and selection of materials are naturally carried out by the moderator.
  3. Summary. It provides suggestions for the possibility of formulating hypotheses.

Among the range of available research, i.e. quantitative research, qualitative research (which I wrote about in the previous blog post), focus research is our favourite tool for collecting, among others, consumer insights. We had the pleasure to perform a series of focus studies, incl. for Grupa Żywiec Inc., while working on the content management system.