Focus groups allow academic institutions and companies of all sizes to conduct research on their target market. A focus group is simply a meeting between product users and product researchers who are collecting firsthand feedback on the product. To entice the public to sign up for focus groups, the organizations often provide a cash incentive for participating. The amount given will depend on the organization sponsoring the focus group, the requirements for participating and how long the meeting lasts.
To participate in a focus group, you must meet the researchers' list of qualifications. These will include demographic, geographic and lifestyle requirements. The researchers are only interested in the opinion of the average user within a particular target market. For example, if the product being tested is a new baby bottle, researchers will be interested in opinions from new parents who live in an area where the bottle will be sold.
In-person focus groups are reserved for residents located near the institution or company conducting research. A select number of participants will be asked to visit on-site with the researchers. There, they will have time to use the product being studied, and will then discuss what they like and do not like about it. The focus group meeting may last an hour, or it may be a full-day event. Participants will be paid in person at the end of the focus group meeting.
Online focus groups can include anyone who meets the criteria set forth by the researchers. The meetings are conducted online, and may take place at specified time periods or whenever is convenient for the participants. Online focus group members will journal their feelings about a particular product or answer specific questions about it. Those feelings will be submitted to the researchers electronically. Participants will be given deadlines for submitting information and will only be paid if the deadlines are met.
Researchers may use surveys as a focus group method that allows them to collect data from a wide range of people at one time. Whether the surveys are completed online or in person is the choice of the researcher. Each survey can be long, and payment is only provided if the full survey is completed. In some cases, participants will earn a small amount of money for each survey completed, and will only be paid out when they earn a specific, larger amount of money for multiple surveys. The surveys may be about one product or many different products. Participants are added to databases based on their demographics, location and lifestyle choices. They will be chosen to participate in surveys based on this information. Once chosen, the participants will be given the products to use and then will be surveyed.