Focus group: What it is and how to use it in marketing

The focus group is a type of research widely used in marketing , since it allows opinions to be expressed about a product or service that is to be launched.

Whenever a company wants to create a new product to put it on sale, tests must be done to have a greater certainty of the results that can be obtained.

Although there are never any guarantees, the focus group can be helpful in this process.

If you want to know how the focus group can help you in this task and how it is used in marketing, stay with me because I will explain this and more here.

What is a focus group?

The focus group, or focus group, is a method of market research whose objective is to analyze and receive opinions on products, services and marketing campaigns within an organization.

It consists of a group of between 5 and 10 people (it can be more or less) being moderated by someone, who must list a series of questions and share them with the members.

Members must answer them and whoever is in charge of management must be able to better understand the needs of customers.

Focus group meetings usually last between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the level of participation of the people who enter into the dynamic, and the main objective is for everyone to have the opportunity to express what they think or some of their ideas.

The members of the group are recruited taking into account aspects such as: purchase history, demographic data, interests, psychographics and consumer behavior. Generally, these are not known to each other.

As the selected people answer the questions and share their ideas, the moderator and the other participants observe, listen and make notes to later use everything collected.

The value of the focus group depends, to a large extent, on the quality of the questions asked of the participants.

Benefits of the focus group

The focus group brings many advantages, but the main or most prominent are the following:

1. Help in the process of launching new products or services

Promote and guide conversations or opinions towards what you want to evaluate, can offer important data or points of view to take into account when developing a new product or service.

Focus groups help companies identify attributes or weaknesses in offerings they have in mind that they may not have considered.

The relevant point is that you really work on articles that can please consumers and that attract their attention.

The objective should always be to respond to their needs, so that sales show good figures in the short or long term for the company and that it is not about efforts invested in unpromising ideas.

2. Allows you to develop rebranding ideas

At some point, all companies experience crises in that they fail to get the attention of their audience or it becomes much more difficult to do so. In case this situation arises, one of the best options is rebranding.

Rebranding is the process through which an organization changes its name, its identity or its target audience to remain current and stay afloat.

The exchanges of ideas that take place in a focus group can be very useful to know where your company could go now, helping these changes to be positive and give results.

3. Better focused marketing campaigns

Any marketing strategy or campaign must be focused on the buyer personas of the company so that they can be reached and the previously established objectives can be achieved.

The focus group can help identify the public we want to target, find out their needs, their ailments and design and undertake the necessary marketing tactics or that adjust to what is pursued.

4. It facilitates achieving a good organization

As they are small groups, guided and managed by a moderator, the questions and topics addressed can be controlled, so that there is no deviation from the main topic and the objective is met.

Likewise, whoever is in charge should opt for a natural position, not one of imposition, so that the people who participate do not feel intimidated or totally controlled by the moderator.

It is about the exchange of ideas occurring naturally and in confidence so that they really adjust to reality and not to an ideality.

5. Allows you to analyze non-verbal responses

The moderator must be attentive to all situations in order to get the most out of the focus group. This, because many times something positive is expressed through speech, but the face communicates the opposite idea.

Body language and facial expressions play a very important role in this activity, as they convey the true feelings of people.

Because we are dealing with groups, there may be some tension and pressure to comment only points in favor of the product or service in question, so there may be bias in the data.

This factor can decrease, depending on how much attention the moderator pays to external elements and identifies them.

6. Quick and easy to interpret results 

The focus group allows you to obtain results quickly and almost automatically, since it requires approximately two hours of application.

Furthermore, the data is qualitative. Therefore, its analysis is less complex and does not require a very elaborate or extensive report.

These characteristics make focus groups an ideal method when looking to save time and avoid having to organize and schedule individual interviews.

How a focus group works

Before putting a focus group into practice, you have to have a well-structured marketing plan so that you can verify that it is working in the way you want to focus it.

This plan allows you to figure out what points need to be adjusted during the process, which involves the next steps.

1. Define the problem

All focus groups have a problem as their starting point.

Therefore, before starting the dynamics, you must identify and verify what you need to solve through the focus group to direct your efforts towards that point and that it is not an aimless activity.

2. Select the participants

Keeping the goal in mind, the next thing to do is decide how many participants you need and decide who they will be, based on what you are looking for.

To make the right decision it is important to consider some resources such as the following.

  • List of clients or leads

If your company has a customer or lead base, it can be a very useful starting point, since it reduces the time it takes to search and find the most suitable participants.

Generally, people who have consumed any of your services or products are more willing to collaborate with your brand and its activities.

  • References

Another resource is to invite friends, relatives or acquaintances. You must explain to them what the focus group consists of, what the objective is and why it is important for them to participate.

Here you just have to consider that since they are people who have contact with you, it is easier for there to be a bias in the data, so you must be cautious.

Also, try to be clear with them so that they realize that the best way to help you is to be 100% honest, without fear.

  • events

Many companies often go to events, conventions or marketing meetings where it could be easy to find an audience. If this is your case, take advantage of this opportunity to get people who could participate in your focus group.

One of the advantages is that you have all the facilities to maintain contact with them, avoiding scheduling appointments, and other factors that take more time and effort.

  • Advertisements

Another way to get people for your focus groups is through the publication of ads in different media. This can increase the number of applicants and give you a broader pool of candidates.

Just pay attention to the different profiles and choose the ones that best suit the objectives of the focus group.

The optimal thing is that you have people with different profiles, but who belong to the niche to which you direct your products or services.

3. Choose observers

It is important that during the focus groups there are people who observe the dynamics so that they can contribute what they perceived during it. This will enrich the experience and make you get more information out of it.

One of the best options is to have them be the employees of the company, in case they are not part of the focus group. Just keep in mind that you should not take this decision lightly.

Focus and think carefully about which people can contribute something to the exercise as observers so that there can be greater benefits through the focus group.

4. Think about how the conversation will be guided

In addition to choosing participants, choosing observers, and planning questions, you must determine how you will go about guiding the conversation.

Some of the aspects to take into account in this regard are the following:

– Explain the dynamics and the objective

The participants must be very clear about what the focus group is about and what objective is pursued through this exercise so that things really flow towards the side in which you are looking.

Likewise, it is necessary that you express and put on the table what are the basic rules to avoid deviations in the subject and that the main objective is not achieved.

– Get involved

In order for the focus group to be motivated and want to continue until the end, even if this requires up to two hours, it is important that they have a strong line of reasoning, that is, that there is a compelling reason to carry out the dynamics and that the participants understand it.

Ideally, it should start with a generic question so that little by little the following ones become more specific and focused on some of the points that you are interested in investigating.

– Includes open questions

Multiple-choice questions are easier to analyze and answer, but open-ended questions can give you much more valuable information.

This way you can investigate the true opinions of the participants and know their feelings about it.

The answers to these types of questions can be very useful for identifying business opportunities. You just have to take care that they are easy to understand to avoid answers not related to the question.

– Moderate efficiently

The first thing to keep in mind when conducting a focus group is that it has a particular objective as its end, so it cannot be carried out as an informal conversation or any other conventional method.

You must focus on conducting the dialogue correctly, always directed towards achieving the objective. This task will depend on the moderator, so choose it very well and, if it is you, take your role very seriously.

The use of the focus group in marketing strategies

In marketing strategies , focus groups have a main function: to obtain insights and feedback on services or products that are offered or that are to be offered.

Focus groups are usually carried out when an offer or a value proposition begins to be formulated, since this way companies that want to experiment with a product have the opportunity to test how feasible their proposal is.

The group that carries out the exercise can be a good indicator because it offers valuable information related to the acceptance of the product or service.

Any launch should have a tangible backing and not be based on beliefs, and the focus group can give you that foundation.

Also, keep in mind that a focus group is not synonymous with an interview, so for it to be useful in the marketing area, it is necessary to have a well-prepared moderator.

To achieve accurate data, it is not recommended to include members of the organization’s teams or collaborators, since they can influence the result and the opinions of external participants who are the true object of interest.

In addition to providing accurate, fast and easy-to-interpret information, focus groups do not require a large financial investment compared to the alternative of hiring another company to carry out market research .

If the focus group will be in person, it is necessary that you consider the cost of transportation of the participants and their stay. To save yourself this part, you can opt for digital media such as Skype or Google Meet.

To obtain good results through the focus groups, determine beforehand each of your strategies and, based on them, design the questions that you will ask during this dynamic. Remember that these must be well focused.

Despite the fact that, as you have seen, the focus group is an excellent tool within marketing and, in general, within companies, you should keep in mind that it is not always the best option and this aspect leads us to the next section of the present article.

When and when not to use a focus group?

The characteristics of the focus group may not be the best for certain scenarios, since the results can take us to different places than what was intended, since, in most cases, it does not provide exact statistical data.

Therefore, let’s see when it is and when it is not functional to use focus groups. First, let’s focus on the positive part.

When is the focus group functional?

Focus groups are ideal to implement in the following scenarios or when you want to achieve the following:

  • Analyze and know the positioning and perception of the brand
  • Detect public image opportunities and risks
  • Identify groups involved in some problems that are directly or indirectly affecting a brand
  • Carry out tests to find out if the instructions for certain products are understandable to users
  • Reposition products or services or target new markets
  • Introduce companies, offices, products or services in new cities or regions
  • Test whether the messages that are being transmitted through advertising are causing a reaction in the target audience
  • Define or modify the value proposition of a company

These are some of the tasks in which a focus group can be very useful, but there are many more options. You only have to analyze how feasible it is that the results truly yield concrete data based on your objective.

Now let’s move on to the scenarios in which it is not advisable to carry out a focus group.

When NOT to use a focus group

There are situations in which a focus group may not be functional, because the task requires more precision or other elements. Some of these scenarios or objectives are the following:

  • Perform analysis of quantitative results; remember that a focus group yields qualitative responses
  • Create a pricing scheme: the sample is usually small, so the results will not give you a true picture on this point
  • Analyze problems related to very personal or particular issues: this method deals with issues in a group, therefore, it can be uncomfortable for the participants and cause the answers to be unreliable

One of the disadvantages of focus groups is that they are not as deep, so if your goal is to gain in-depth knowledge about a topic, it is better to use other market research methods.


As you could see throughout this article, the focus group is an excellent tool within marketing that allows you to know the perception of your target audience, through the observation and analysis of their comments, reactions and expectations regarding a brand. , a product or a service.

This method allows you to quickly gather all the information necessary both to empathize with users or customers and detect insights in a definition phase, and to test our service or product.

The important thing is that you define very well the objective that your focus group will pursue and the target that you will address and, above all, that you choose the moderator very well, since, as mentioned above, the role he plays will be decisive in terms of obtaining results.

Tell me, have you ever put this technique into practice? Did you know her? If you have not used it and you are working on any of the points in which this tool is recommended, I invite you to do so. Remember that one of its advantages is that you do not require a lot of investment and the results can be promising.

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