Focus groups

Published:

“MARKETING RESEARCH''

Introduction

Before going further we must understand definition of Marketing.

American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the systematic gathering, recording and analysing of data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services”.

There are many research techniques that can be used for marketing purpose, among that we are going to discuss about Focus group

Focus Group

A focus group is a special type of group in terms of purpose, size, composition and procedure.

A purpose of focus group is to listen and gather information. It is a way to better understand how people think or feel about an issue, products and services.

Participants are selected because they have certain focus group provide qualitative data characteristics that relate to the topic of focus group.

A focus group study is carefully planned series of discussion designed to obtain a perception on a defined area of interest in a permissive, nonthreatening environment. Each group is created by six or eight people by skilled interviewer. The discussion are relaxed and often participant enjoy sharing their ideas and perception. Group member influences each other by responding to ideas and comments of others.

A. Characteristics

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Following are the main characteristics of Focus groups.

1. Focus groups involves peoples :-

Focus group typically composed of five to ten peoples, but the size can range from as few as four to as many as twelve. The group must be small enough for everyone to have an opportunity to share insights and yet large enough to diversity of perception. When the group exceeds a dozen participants there is a tendency for the group to fragment. Participants want to talk but unable to talk because there is just not a sufficient pause in the conversation. In this situation participants share by whispering to the people next to them. This is signal that group is big. Small group of four or five participants afford more opportunity.

2. People possess the certain characteristics

Focus groups are composed of participants who are similar to each other in a way that is important to researcher. The nature of this homogeneity is determine by the purpose of study. This similarity is basis for recruitment and participants are typically informed of this common factor at the beginning of discussion.

This homogeneity can be broadly or narrowly defined, for example suppose an adult community education wanted to know more about how to reach people who haven't participated in their program.

In this case homogeneity could be broadly define as adults who live in the community who have not yet attend community education session. Group member can be vary by age, gender, occupation, and interest, but member have the commonality of being adults, community members and non members.

3. Focus groups provide a qualitative data :-

The goal of focus group is to collect data that are interest to the researcher typically to find the range of options of people across several groups. This research compares and contrasted data collected from at least three focus groups. This differs from other group interactions in which the goal is to come to some conclusion at the end of a discussion - reach consensus, provide recommendations or make decisions among alternatives. The focus groups present a natural environment than that of an individual because participants are influencing and influenced by others just as they are in life. The researcher serves several functions in the focus group, moderator, listener, observer and eventually analyst using an inductive process.

4. Focus groups have a focused discussion :-

The questions in focus group are carefully predetermined. The questions are phrased and sequence so they are easy to understand and logical to the participants. Most are open ended questions. These questions appear spontaneous but are develop through considerable reflection and input. The set of questions called questioning route or interview guide is then arranged in natural and logical sequence. Question near the beginning of the groups are more general. As the groups continues the questions becomes more specific and more focused. The beginning questions help get people talking and thinking about the topic. Questions near the end of group typically yield the most useful information. There is no pressure by moderator to have the group reach consensus. Instead attention is placed on understanding the feeling, the comment, and through process of participants as they discussed the issues.

B. Uses of Focus group

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Following are the uses of focus groups research techniques.

1. Helps in decision making

2. Helps for product development

3. This data can be used for research purpose

4. They are important for discussion purpose.

When to use focus group

1. To test new concept

2. To evaluate advertising/ copy

3. To evaluate promotion

4. To developed questionnaire

5. To generate ideas or support brainstorming

6. To position product/services

7. To assess product usability

C. Advantages:-

1. Plasticity

2. Provides observation of real consumer in an interactive setting.

3. Involves fewer participants compared to quantitative methods.

4. Can be arranged on short notice and at a lower cost.

5. Statistical analysis is unnecessary.

D. Disadvantages:-

1. Focus group results are not quantitative

2. Sample size is small; result are not projectable

3. Participants do not represent the target market

4. Topic are direction of the discussion are moderator dependent

5. Careful interpretation of the data is crucial.

E. How to conduct focus group

A short overview of the literature provides some suggestion for conducting focus groups. The number of groups you should conduct depends on your research question and on the number of different population subgroups required (morgan1988,p.42).it is generally suggested that it is more appropriate to work with stranger instead of groups of friends or people who know each other very well, because the level of (1988,p.48).it is also suggested that you should begin with the group as heterogeneous as possible and then run a second set if groups that are more homogeneous (1988,p.73).in each case it is necessary to start the group with some kind of warming up.

These two opening of focus groups are very typical and helpful:

Before we begin our discussion, it will be helpful for us to get acquainted with one another. Let's begin with some introductory comments about ourselves. X, why don't you start and we'll go around the table and give our names and little about what we do for living?

Today we're going to discuss an issue that affects you. Before we get into discussion, let me make few request of you. First, you should know that we are tape recording the session so that I can refer back to discussion when I write my report. If anyone is uncomfortable with being recorded please say so and, of course you are free to leave. Do speak up and lets try to have just one person speak at a time. I will pay traffic cop and try to assure that everyone gets turn. Finally, please say exactly what you think, don't worry about what I think what our neighbor thinks. We are here to exchange opinion and have fun while we do it. Why don't we begin by introducing ourselves?

Postal Questionnaire

Questionnaire is a list of written questions, there are two types of questionnaire, first were respondent could asked to complete the question with researcher not present these types of questionnaire is called as postal questionnaire. And secondly respondent could asked to complete question with research present is called as structured interview (Sociological Research Skills).

Questionnaires are restricted two types:

Close ended: in this type researcher provides a list of suitable response (Sociological Research Skills).

Open ended: in this type researcher not provide any suitable list of response to the response dent .respondent asked to write the answer in their own way (Sociological Research Skills).

For my project I am using postal questionnaire because I am a student and I am not able to go each and every places of Singapore. One of the most reliable methods of research is postal questionnaire because it's very easy for researcher to standardize and analyze the questions. Each respondent answered exactly same question. And I am using close ended questioner in this.

Appendix

Questionnaire

Q.1a. Among all new models of car which model you purchased?

Answer :- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Q.1b. When?

Answer Day :- _____ , Month :- _______ , Year :- ________

Q.2 What primary factors will you consider first while purchasing a car?

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Answer (A) Average (B) Speed (C) Maintenance (D) Comfort

Q.3 By what source you come to know about this car?

Answer (A) Internet (B) Television

(C) Magazine (D) Motor Show Exhibition (E) Other

If other please mention your source below:-

…………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………

Q.4 How much time will you spend for decision of purchasing a new car?

Answer (A) Less than two weeks (B) 2 weeks to 4 weeks (C) 4 weeks to 6 weeks (D) More than 6 weeks

Q.5 Time taken by dealer from placing order to delivery of order?

Answer (A) Less than 3 weeks (B) Three weeks to one month (C) One month to three months (D) More than three months

Q.6 Among all this companies which companies car will you prefer?

Answer (A) Audi (B) Lancer (C) Mercedes (D) Sonata

Q.7 Excluding any deposit how was your vehicle primarily paid for?

Answer (A) Loan (B) Cash (C) Leasing (D) Other

Q.8 After signing a contract how many days did it takes for your vehicle to be delivered?

Answer ______________ Days

Q.9 Please identify the main alternative vehicle that you considered?

Answer .........................................................................................................................

Q.10 How would you rate your overall purchasing experience at the dealership?

Answer (A) Poor (B) Met expectation (C)Satisfactory (D) Excellent

Q.11 Did you receive any benefits for taking an alternative specification to ypur preferred choice?

Answer (A) No (B) Yes

If yes please mention below

................................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................................

Q.12 How did you confirm your final order with dealer?

Answer (A) Phone (B) Fax (C) Personally (D) Other

Q.13 Is this car is satisfactory to your needs?

Answer (A) Yes (B) No

Reason :- ..............................................................................................................

...............................................................................................................

Q. 14 Do you think purchasing car is very difficult procedure?

Answer (A) Yes (B) No

Q. 15 How satisfied are you with the time taken to complete the entire sale process at your dealership?

Answer (A) Poor (B) Average (C) Satisfactory (D) Outstanding

Conclusion:-

• This report details the results of a survey of new car buyers which aimed to understand their buying needs and behaviour in relation to build-to-order and short delivery lead times. It was part of a research programme that examined the nature of demand for a Car

• Brochures, dealer sales staff, car magazines and friends/relatives were the most common sources of new car information sources used. The internet was used by just under one fifth, and particular by those aged 25 to 35 years.

• Colour or paint type was the most popular type of specification change, and 46% of those who compromised said they received some form of benefit from the dealer for doing so - predominantly a discount on their new cars, followed by specification upgrade. There large differences across the brands in the benefits offered.

• The most common day for making an order was Saturday, and the most common day for collecting the new car was Friday. Most orders and collections were made in the afternoon, though nearly 20% said they collected their cars in the evening

• On average, new car buyers contacted or visited their dealer three times when purchasing their car

• Key themes that emerged from the results included the differences in attitudes and behaviour of younger car buyers, and differences between volume and specialist buyers.

• Younger car buyers are much more impatient than older buyers and more predisposed to changing their behaviour to ensure they are ‘instantly gratified'.

• Specialist buyers are prepared to wait longer for their cars, with the suggestion that they make a clear link between quality and time - that is, a premium car by its nature will take longer to make and deliver. While technically there should be little difference in manufacturing and delivery time for both volume and specialist cars, it can be argued that the current marketing and sales system exploits and reinforces this outdated belief.

• Overall, the research suggests that order to delivery time matters to new car buyers, that consumers expectation are high in terms of a short lead time.

Reference

Focus Group As Qualitative Research David L. Morgan

Focus Groups Theory and Practice David W. Stewart, Denis W. Rook

The Focus Group Research Handbook Holly Edmunds