When to use Focus Groups and When to use In-Depth Interviews


Qualitative research is the ideal methodology to use when you want to drill down into your target markets attitudes and behaviors.   Once you have identified that you need to carry out a qualitative study the next step is deciding which methodology to use, Focus Groups or In-Depth interviews?  Here is a quick summary of each methodology and when to use it.


Focus Groups

A focus group is a qualitative technique, where a group of people are brought together to discuss attitudes or behaviors towards various marketing issues such as ads or products.  Groups are moderated by a trained researcher who ensures all participants get a chance to talk freely.

When to use a focus group

A focus group is ideal when you want to delve deeply into ideas and attitudes, and you feel individual’s comments and ideas will trigger other group member’s ideas.

Groups are often held in rooms with one way mirrors which means you can sit on one side and hear firsthand what you target market thinks about your company or products.  They are also recorded which is a great way to get other stakeholders across what consumers are saying about your business or your products or services.

In-Depth Interviews

In-depth interviews are one-on-one interactions between a respondent and interviewer only.    They are longer and much less structured than quantitative interviews, and the respondents often lead the direction of the conversation (although the interviewer has already identified what needs to be asked and adapts as they go).

When to use In-Depth Interviews

In-depth interviews are ideal if customers are isolated i.e. live in rural areas, and a number of the products or decisions are made in isolation.  They are also an ideal tool if the topic is sensitive and participants may not be comfortable discussing issues in front of others , and would feel more comfortable just speaking confidentially to the researcher.

Both are strong methodologies and can be used to answer the “why” questions in market research.

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