Toiling with an idea for a new product or service can become dizzying. The initial lightbulb moment can be euphoric, but the follow-up exhaustive. When you've tested your product to breaking point in your mind, find more minds. A focus group can help you gain a fresh perspective on your product and even reshape your target audience.
At Titanic Suites, we’ve helped our resident entrepreneurs test offline and physical products using focus groups. Follow our steps to set up, host and learn from these research scenarios.
What is a focus group?
Focus groups have been in use for over six decades and were initially used to test the effectiveness of war-time propaganda. Since, they have become a staple part of corporate, media and product research. Despite their popularity amongst the top brands, focus groups are an accessible form of research.
Ideally, focus groups are made up of mixed audiences and demographics that you will target. The diversity of the group should indicate how different individuals will receive your product. Researchers should observe from behind mirrored-glass, allowing participants to express themselves comfortably. A moderator should be present to steer the conversation around different aspects of the product.
Why and when should I use a focus group?
The desired outcome is to learn more about how people respond to your product. You should come away from a focus group with qualitative, not quantitive, data. Focus groups aren't merely surveys in person, and they should fill information black holes. Participants should be encouraged to discuss, test and critic your product.
Focus groups are useful at different stages of product development. The can help you decide if there is a viable market for your product by discussing concepts. It's common for brands to organise a pre-launch focus group to alleviate design fears or to choose prototypes.
Are there disadvantages to using focus groups?
Unfortunately, like all research and testing methods, there can be flaws when using focus groups. In some instances, groups can begin to find consensus, when in reality you want individual opinions.
For example, Subject X thinks your site needs a larger logo and new home button logo. Subject Y, believes the website to be perfect, but then agrees that a new home button is required to satisfy X. In these instances, you should consider one-to-one or usability.
The biggest challenge facing a focus group is finding the correct moderator. Choose someone who can keep a group to task. However, they must not impress their personal opinions on the group. Read more on how to choose your moderator here.
How do I set-up a focus group?
So far, you should understand why, when and the advantages of focus groups. Consider the significant obstacles facing your products, and its key strengths and weaknesses. Set up questions which lead the users to discuss the key issues, including competitors. If you do not feel comfortable moderating the event, ask for help. As mentioned, the right moderator can make or break the test.
As well as planning the focus group, brace yourself for all types of feedback. When you have been working in the background creating your product, you may become slightly detached from the end-users reality. You must prepare for criticism, but don't panic. One of the world's best-renowned usability experts, Steve Krug, recommends making one change at a time to your product. Address the significant concerns first, then progress to the minute details after.
Focus groups made easy in Belfast.
Thanks to Titanic Suites Belfast, focus groups are easy to set up and accessible to more entrepreneurs and businesses than ever before. In our Belfast focus suite, we offer a soundproof one-way mirror and a large respondent room. This allows you to gauge the reaction of your participants at a comfortable distance.
Our focus suite allows you to research with minimal staffing needs, thanks to USB recording, live streaming and WiFi access. Titanic's viewing rooms are also used for user testing and in-depth interviews. To set up your focus group or to learn more about what else is on offer at Titanic Suites, contact us now.