This article is posted especially for the benefit of those we ask to participate in our focus groups. It is an excerpt from the quintessential marketing research text book, “Marketing Research", by David Aaker. V. Kumar and George Day. Please also see our post "What to expect as a focus group participant".
Focus group studies are a qualitative research method.
"Qualitative research is done to obtain a basic feel for the problem before proceeding to the more analytical portion of the study.
[...] to find out what is in the consumer's mind
[...] to get a rough idea about the person's perspective
[...] to become oriented to the range an complexity of consumer activity and concerns."
"A focus group discussion is the process of obtaining possible ideas or solutions to a marketing problem from a group of respondents by discussing it. The emphasis in this method is on the results of group interaction when focused on a series of topics a discussion leader introduces. Each participant in a group of five to nine persons is encouraged to express views in each topic and to elaborate on or react to the views of the other participants."
"The focus group discussion offers participants more stimulation than an interview; presumably this makes new ideas and meaningful comments more likely. Among other advantages, it is claimed that discussions often prove more spontaneity and candor than can be expected in an interview. "
In the end one knows the range of consumer expectations and motivating factors, and thus which products or services to offer or how to improve existing ones.