How to Recruit a Focus Group

How to Recruit a Focus Group. A focus group consists of 8 to 10 people with similar backgrounds discussing a particular topic for about 1 ½ hours. Offering compensation for their time is usually enough to get people to agree to participate, but these steps outline the recruiting process so anyone can recruit a focus group.

Determine what subgroups of the population to use in the focus group based on the study objectives. If the focus group objective is to determine the best new ice cream flavor name, then the focus group should include people who buy ice cream frequently.

Define group participant criteria. Decide what categories participants should be such as gender, ethnicity, age, income or education. Also determine other criteria specific to defining the groups, such as "eats different ice cream at least 4 times a month."

Set quota groups to have a mixture of respondents in the group. Quotas can be set based on the marketers experience with their target or by the census data for the area. Recruit 30 percent males and 70 percent females is an example.

Write the screener survey based on the defined participant criteria. Each question should screen the potential participants to check if they qualify for the group. "How many times a week do you eat ice cream?" may be a screening question.

Recruit participants via phone, email, direct mail or in person. Using the screener survey, keep track of the quota groups and the recruits' names, addresses and phone numbers. Use a sample house such as SSI or random phone numbers for telephone recruiting.

Send a reminder letter with the participant's scheduled date and time, include a map and contact number for the focus group facility. Send this information electronically if you collected email addresses during recruitment.

Rescreen and confirm recruits 24 to 48 hours before the scheduled focus group. To save time, use a market research company that specializes in focus group recruitment.


  • Always over recruit, that is, recruit more than you want in the group because some may not show up. If too many show up, just pay and send some home without participating. Let recruits know about compensation and whether the group includes food. Be sure to recruit people that speak up and can convey their opinions succinctly.


  • Do not use professional respondents, as their responses are predictable and usually won't give as much insight as a new respondent.


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