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In order to gain accurate, applicable information from a focus group, it is important to recruit the right participants. Tips for effective focus group recruitment include developing a clear understanding of both the information needed and the people from whom that information should be gleaned. It is also critical to develop a pre-qualification questionnaire that ensures the right people are invited to participate in the group. Recruiters also must clearly communicate with potential survey members and determine appropriate compensation to encourage participation.
The first step in effective focus group recruitment is determining what the company needs to know. In some cases, focus groups exist to determine general consumer impressions of particular products. Others seek to uncover the opinions and buying habits of specific consumer groups. Still others are intended to obtain consumer reactions to packaging, a specific product, a company, a brand, or an advertising campaign. Companies cannot determine what types of people need to be surveyed until they know what kind of information needs to be uncovered.
Once the company knows what it wants to find out, it can begin determining who to invite to participate. Focus group recruitment should include participants from all potential target audiences, either in one group or in a series of several smaller groups. The company may need to consider whether it wants to speak with existing customers or potential customers and whether to work with purchasers or end users, if those two audiences are different.
A solid qualification process is critical to focus group recruitment, as this step ensures that the right people participate in the survey. This means that qualifying questions should uncover whether a potential participant's demographic data fits within the desired profile. Questions should also be written to find out whether individuals have the other factors the company desires, including shopping and purchase habits.
When the correct participants are identified, they must still be convinced to be involved with the focus group. This means that groups must be scheduled at times and places that are convenient to the participants and that the individuals chosen must be interested enough in the subject to participate. Survey group details should be clearly communicated to the participants, and a system should be set up for having questions answered. In many cases, incentives are offered to assist focus group recruitment. These incentives can include anything of value, such as cash, gift cards, products, discounts or restaurant meals.