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Encyclopedia > Focus group
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Underwriting // Advert redirects here. ... For other uses, see Brand (disambiguation). ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Marketing Direct marketing is a discipline within marketing that involves contacting individual customers (business-to-business or consumer) directly and obtaining their responses and transactions for the purpose of developing and prolonging mutually profitable customer relationships. ... Sales are the activities involved in providing products or services in return for money or other compensation. ... Wikibooks [[wikibooks:|]] has more about this subject: Marketing Product placement advertisements are promotional ads placed by marketers using real commercial products and services in media, where the presence of a particular brand is the result of an economic exchange. ... // Dictionary. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Marketing Look up publicity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Marketing Sales promotion is one of the four aspects of promotional mix. ... An underwriting spot is an announcement made on public broadcasting outlets, especially in the United States, in exchange for funding. ...

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For other uses, see Print. ... Look up publication in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and/or video signals which transmit programs to an audience. ... Out-of-home advertising (also referred to as OOH) is essentially all type of advertising that reaches the consumer while he or she is outside the home. ... Wikibooks [[wikibooks:|]] has more about this subject: Marketing Internet marketing, also referred to as online marketing or Emarketing, is the marketing of products or services over the Internet. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Promotional items or promotional products refers to articles of merchandise that are used in marketing and communication programs. ... Digital Marketing refers to the practice of marketing services, products and other items using digital tools and techniques that have appeared relatively recently since the rise of the Internet as a mainstream communications platform. ... In-game advertising (IGA) refers to the use of computer and video games as a medium in which to deliver advertising. ... Word-of-mouth marketing is a term used in the marketing and advertising industry to describe activities that companies undertake to generate personal recommendations as well as referrals for brand names, products and services. ...

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A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their attitude towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. Qualitative research is one of the two major approaches to research methodology in social sciences. ...

Ernest Dichter originated the idea of having a "group therapy" for products and this process is what became known as a focus group.[1]


In marketing

In the world of marketing, focus groups are seen as an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products, as well as various topics. In particular, focus groups allow companies wishing to develop, package, name, or test market a new product, to discuss, view, and/or test the new product before it is made available to the public. This can provide invaluable information about the potential market acceptance of the product. Next big thing redirects here. ...

In social sciences

In the social sciences and urban planning, focus groups allow interviewers to study people in a more natural setting than a one-to-one interview. In combination with participant observation, they can be used for gaining access to various cultural and social groups, selecting sites to study, sampling of such sites, and raising unexpected issues for exploration. Focus groups have a high apparent validity - since the idea is easy to understand, the results are believable. Also, they are low in cost, one can get results relatively quickly, and they can increase the sample size of a report by talking with several people at once. (Material based on: Marshall and Rossman, Designing Qualitative Research, 3rd Ed. London: Sage Publications, 1999, p. 115) The social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that study human aspects of the world. ... Urban planning is concerned with the ordering and design of settlements, from the smallest towns to the worlds largest cities. ... Participant observation is a major research strategy which aims to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals (such as a religious, occupational, or deviant group) and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their natural environment. ... In logic, the form of an argument is valid precisely if it cannot lead from true premises to a false conclusion. ...

Traditional focus groups

In traditional focus groups, a screened (qualified) group of respondents gathers in the same room. They are screened to ensure that they are part of the relevant target market and that the group is a representative subgroup of this market segment. There are usually 6 to 10 members in the group, and the session usually lasts for 1 to 2 hours. A moderator guides the group through a discussion that probes attitudes about a client's proposed products or services. The discussion is loosely structured, and the moderator encourages the free flow of ideas. The moderator is typically given a list of objectives or an anticipated outline. He/she will generally have only a few specific questions prepared prior to the focus group. These questions will serve to initiate open-ended discussions. Target market may be defined as a market which an organisation sets its views on, either because it is witnessing an increasing demand for the product produced by the organisation, either because it represents a blue ocean for the organisation to exploit before its competitors get there, so as to... A Market segment is a subgroup of people or organizations sharing one or more characteristics that cause them to have similar product needs. ...

Client representatives observe the discussion from behind a one-way mirror. Participants cannot see out, but the researchers and their clients can see in. Usually, a video camera records the meeting so that it can be seen by others who were not able to travel to the site. Transcripts can be created from the video tape. If the participants speak a different language than the clients, a simultaneous interpreter may be used. A mirror is a surface with good specular reflection that is smooth enough to form an image. ... Video cameras are used primarily in two modes. ... Interpreter can mean one of the following: In communication, an interpreter is a person whose role is to facilitate dialogue between two parties that do not use the same language. ...

Researchers examine more than the spoken words. They also try to interpret facial expressions, body language, and group dynamics. Moderators may use straight questioning or various projective techniques, including fixed or free association, story-telling and role-playing. Focus groups are often used to garner reaction to specific stimuli such as concepts, prototypes and advertising. A Free Association is an association which meets certain mostly negative criteria. ... In role-playing, participants adopt characters, or parts, that have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own. ... A concept is an abstract, universal psychical entity that serves to designate a category or class of entities, events or relations. ...

It is often suggested that respondents feel group pressure to conform and this can contaminate the results. Others hold that by using trained and experienced moderators who appropriately manage the discussion, this potential problem can be mitigated. Further, despite the potential for groupthink, marketers and sociologists find that group dynamics are useful in developing new streams of thought and covering an issue thoroughly. Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. ...

Types of focus groups

Variants of focus groups include:

  • Two-way focus group - one focus group watches another focus group and discusses the observed interactions and conclusions
  • Dual moderator focus group - one moderator ensures the session progresses smoothly, while another ensures that all the topics are covered
  • Dueling moderator focus group - two moderators deliberately take opposite sides on the issue under discussion
  • Respondent moderator focus group - one or more of the respondents are asked to act as the moderator temporarily
  • Client participant focus groups - one or more client representatives participate in the discussion, either covertly or overtly
  • Mini focus groups - groups are comprised of 4 or 5 members rather than 8 to 12
  • Teleconference focus groups - telephone network is used
  • Online focus groups - computers connected via the internet are used

Traditional focus groups can provide accurate information, and are less expensive than other forms of traditional marketing research. There can be significant costs however : if a product is to be marketed on a nationwide basis, it would be critical to gather respondents from various locales throughout the country since attitudes about a new product may vary due to geographical considerations. This would require a considerable expenditure in travel and lodging expenses. Additionally, the site of a traditional focus group may or may not be in a locale convenient to a specific client, so client representatives may have to incur travel and lodging expenses as well. Consumer research redirects here. ...

The use of focus groups has steadily evolved over time and is becoming increasingly more widespread.

Problems and criticism

However, focus groups also have disadvantages: The researcher has less control over a group than a one-on-one interview, and thus time can be lost on issues irrelevant to the topic; the data are tough to analyze because the talking is in reaction to the comments of other group members; observers/ moderators need to be highly trained, and groups are quite variable and can be tough to get together. (Ibid.) Moreover, the number of members of a focus group is not large enough to be a representative sample of a population; thus, the data obtained from the groups is not necessarily representative of the whole population, unlike in opinion polls. An opinion poll is a survey of opinion from a particular sample. ...

A fundamental difficulty with focus groups (and other forms of qualitative research) is the issue of observer dependency: the results obtained are influenced by the researcher, raising questions of validity. The issue evokes associations with Heisenberg’s famous Uncertainty Principle. As Heisenberg said, "What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." Indeed, the design of the focus group study (e.g. respondent selection, the questions asked, how they are phrased, how they are posed, in what setting, by whom, and so on) affects the answers obtained from respondents. In focus groups, researchers are not detached observers but always participants. Researchers must take this into account when making their analysis (Based on: Tjaco H. Walvis (2003), “Avoiding advertising research disaster: Advertising and the uncertainty principle”, Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 10, No. 6, pp. 403-409). Qualitative research is one of the two major approaches to research methodology in social sciences. ... Werner Heisenberg Werner Karl Heisenberg (December 5, 1901 – February 1, 1976) was a celebrated German physicist and Nobel laureate, one of the founders of quantum mechanics. ... In quantum physics, the outcome of even an ideal measurement of a system is not deterministic, but instead is characterized by a probability distribution, and the larger the associated standard deviation is, the more uncertain we might say that that characteristic is for the system. ...

Douglas Rushkoff[2] argues that focus groups are often useless, and frequently cause more trouble than they are intended to solve, with focus groups often aiming to please rather than offering their own opinions or evaluations, and with data often cherry picked to support a forgone conclusion. Rushkoff cites the disastrous introduction of New Coke in the 1980s as a vivid example of focus group analysis gone bad. Douglas Rushkoff (born 18 February 1961) is a New York-based writer, columnist and lecturer on technology, media and popular culture. ... // In the literal case of harvesting cherries, or any other fruit, the picker would be expected to only select the ripest and healthiest fruits. ... New Coke was the unofficial name of the sweeter formulation introduced in 1985 by The Coca-Cola Company to replace its flagship soft drink, Coca-Cola or Coke. ...

Federal government use of focus groups

The Federal Government makes extensive use of focus groups to assess public education materials and messages for their many programs. While many of these are appropriate for the purpose, many others are reluctant compromises which federal officials have had to make as a result of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) The bureaucratic procedures require the federal researcher to go through a very elaborate justification of why he/she needs to conduct a survey or any study that will involve more than 10 people. The researcher must also have the complete methodology approved by the Office of Manangement and Budgetof the Executive Office of the President--not always the paragon of scientific objectivity. Often, the labor for the approval is far greater than the labor to do the research. Federal researchers most often take the path of least resistance and use 9 person focus group or even several of these with different questions asked. So there are many federal focus groups and few surveys or other type studies independent of whether a focus group is the best or even appropriate methodology.

See also

  • Coolhunting
  • Comparison of usability evaluation methods
  • Innovation game

Coolhunting is a term coined in the early 1990s referring to a new breed of marketing professionals, called coolhunters. ...


  1. ^ "The Century of Self" BBC video (2002)
  2. ^ Rushkoff, Douglas, Get back in the box : innovation from the inside out, New York : Collins, 2005

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Quantitative Methods in Public Administration: Focus Groups (1326 words)
Focus group research is based on facilitating an organized discussion with a group of individuals selected because they were believed to be representative of some class (ex., the class of consumers of a product, the class of voters).
Focus groups are a method of choice where the dynamics which determine outcomes are not well known and surprises are expected, as in marketing research where focus groups are brought together to react to product or candidate ads.
Focus groups are generally a poor choice when quantitative information is desired (ex., when one wants to know the percentage of people who will buy product X or vote for candidate X).
focus group: Definition and Much More from Answers.com (3241 words)
Focus group participants are generally selected on the basis of their use, knowledge, attitudes, or feelings about the products, services, or other test concepts that are the subject of the focus group.
A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their attitude towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging.
Focus groups are often used to garner reaction to specific stimuli such as concepts, prototypes and advertising.
  More results at FactBites »



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