What are Focus Groups used for?

Originally focus groups were called focused interviews or sometimes even group depth interviews. This technique got invented and became popular in fact after the World War II in order to evaluate the response of the audience to different radio programmes. After that, without much looking back, different social scientists and evaluators of programmes have understood and proved the use of focus groups in the understanding of how and why certain beliefs are held by people in concern to a certain programme or topic of interest.

The simplest way to define a focus group would be a group of interacting individuals who share common interests and characteristics and have been brought together on a common pedestal by a moderator.  The purpose of the moderator is to use the group and its interaction that derives relevant information in context to a specific or focussed issue.

A focus group usually has 7-10 people and they are unfamiliar to each other.  The selection of these participants is done because they have certain characteristics which are common in them and have relevance to the reason/ topic of the research for which the focus group has been created. The key role here is of the moderator as   he is supposed to be creating an environment that is permissive and nurturing so as to bring forth different perspectives on the surface in an encouraging manner. It has to be done, keeping in mind that the participants do not have to be pressurized to reach a common a viewpoint or vote in a pre-planned manner. It is not a one-time attempt, but the discussion has to be conducted several times with different participants who share similar traits so that it is possible for the researcher to identify patterns and trends that are there in the perceptions of the respondents. After the observations of the researcher, careful and systematic analysis of the discussion is done and it provides clues and insights on the different ways the key issue of the research is perceived by different groups.

Focus groups help you to gain insight in the following areas:

  • Gives information on what are the feelings and thoughts of the people on a certain topic.
  • Gives more insight into the reasons of why certain topics are brought up.
  • Helps to enhance the planning and design of new programmes
  • Give a means of assessing the programme that is existing

Help in development of developing of strategies