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What are Focus Groups and how are they run?

A Focus Group is where a group of respondents gather together in the same room. The group normally consists of pre-screened people who are relevant to the specific target market being researched and the group is managed by a moderator.

Focus groups are used by businesses and organisations to hear first-hand what their customers, staff, suppliers or other parties think, using a range of methods to encourage conversation and debate.

A focus group may comprise of between 6 to 10 people but this is not fixed. Respondents (as they are known) are invited to take part on the basis that they meet certain critiera - eg fit a particular demographic, buy certain products, hold certain attitudes etc.

Respondents are interviewed by a professional qualitative research moderator who records the conversation and then analyses the feedback, and the results are presented to their client in a powerpoint presentation and/or written report form.

A normal focus group usually lasts up to an hour and a half. Longer sessions (known as 'extended focus groups') can adopt a creative workshop style making full use of more formal teamwork techniques.