As a product manager, you often find yourself in situations where you need to make decisions around new products and features. Going into these decisions without adequate research can jeopardize the success of your product moving forward. To combat this, PMs conduct market research to evaluate market acceptance, opinions, and opportunities.
When it comes to market research you can lean on either quantitative or qualitative methods. Quantitative methods include things like surveys or conjoint analysis, whereas qualitative methods might be focus groups or in-depth interviews.
While a number of these methods might be effective, this article will discuss the most popular qualitative approach — focus groups. You’ll learn what a focus group is, the different types, and how to conduct one effectively.
A focus group is a small group of people (usually six to ten members) who discuss and answer various questions to provide insights, feedback, or experience about a topic, product, service, or feature.
You chose members for a focus group based on common interests and experience. Alongside the members, a moderator guides the discussion by introducing questions for the participants.
A successful focus group requires you to have clearly defined and established roles. By doing so, you help to ensure that the session runs smoothly and that you achieve your desired result. The most important roles include:
Focus groups tend to include a small group of people, usually between six and ten people. By doing so, you create an environment that encourages active participation where everyone has an opportunity to speak. You can run these in either a virtual or physical setting, however you need to be mindful of keeping participants comfortable.
Your focus group will be most productive if you have an effective moderation that keeps the session between 30-90 minutes. When focus groups extend beyond 90 minutes it’s often a sign that the discussion has veered off track and participants will be more likely to become distracted or disengaged.
Ensure that you select your participants thoughtfully so that you represent similar demographic traits, experience, product/service usage behavior, and attitude. This will help you have more useful results.
As far as the questions go, keep things open ended. Your moderator should avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no. You want participants to share their feelings, which are difficult to quantify. Because of this, none of your questions will have numeric results.
Before you decide on which focus group to pursue, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the range of options and select the one that makes the most sense for your product team. The different types of focus groups include:
Thorough market research is key to any product’s success. Focus groups help to enable market research. Alongside this, there are several benefits to conducting focus groups.
Using focus groups you can learn customer’s thoughts on needs, opinions, and feelings regarding the product. Focus groups help product managers discover the hidden desires and motivations of a customer through open-ended questions. Customers also help explore new ideas during the session.
Focus groups allow customers to express their opinions about the product or service and this lets you use it as an opportunity to make customers feel valued and heard. This will help you build good customer relationships centered around trust.
Customers reveal insights on market trends they’re experiencing and also how your competitors are better in certain areas of product/service. This helps you to build a competitive advantage in the product/service for upcoming releases and cater to market trends.
Focus groups are a powerful tool to identify usability and design flaws at early stages, evaluate products/features before release, and develop products/features targeted specifically to customers/markets.
Conducting a focus group requires thorough planning and effective facilitation. By following these steps, you’ll be on the right track in no time:
Now that you know how to conduct a focus group, let’s discuss a few major challenges that organizers face and how to overcome them.
Participants can adapt to herd mentality subconsciously and conform with others resulting in biased, unrepresentative opinions. You can overcome this by using icebreakers between participants and emphasizing the importance of their perspective on the subject. A moderator can solve this by asking follow-up open-ended questions to each participant and letting them express their views.
Some participants might be loud and dominate the session resulting in biased discussion. To overcome this, the moderator should politely manage such participants and ensure freedom of speech for other participants. A moderator can use techniques like time-bound round-robin to let every participant speak and delay the continuous speaking of a dominant participant.
Some participants are silent and shy to speak out their opinions. Either they nod towards the moderator with yes for letting the situation go or they might remain quiet throughout the session. To overcome this, the moderator should have ice breaking sessions with such participants and make them comfortable. Also, the moderator can point towards them with follow-up open-ended questions to speak out their perspective.
This is a common problem found in focus group discussion where instead of facilitating the discussion, a moderator is involved as a participant and biases everyone’s opinion towards their perspective. To overcome this, a moderator should act with neutrality and impartial involvement. Having a mock-up with other facilitators before the session would help the moderator stay out of the discussion and allow participants to express themselves.
A focus group is a qualitative research method where a small group of participants of around six to ten people discuss a topic. The information gathered via discussion helps product management teams evaluate the product/feature before or after release. This results in enhanced customer engagement, trusted relationship with customers, and increased customer retainment.
Featured image source: IconScout
LogRocket identifies friction points in the user experience so you can make informed decisions about product and design changes that must happen to hit your goals.
With LogRocket, you can understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the changes that need to be made. LogRocket simplifies workflows by allowing Engineering, Product, UX, and Design teams to work from the same data as you, eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done.
Get your teams on the same page — try LogRocket today.
Sanjay Modi discusses his role in leading a website security product portfolio through drastically changing customer needs.
The acronym SDK stands for software development kit. It contains platform-specific tools to run and develop software.
If you think about some of the businesses that market familiarity as a selling point, you actually don’t get negative vibes from them at all.