Debbie dashed into the lift, and was completely unperturbed by the gawking young executive, who seemed startled by her abrupt appearance. 16th Floor… Project Gorgeous, the two-hour focus group discussion was her first. Had she used Waze at the start of her journey, she wouldn’t have taken the wrong interchange. The gnawing thought of being turned away for arriving late for the focus group was enough to taunt her.
It was just a day ago, the recruiter reminded Debbie to set out early from her workplace for the fact that traffic congestion in the city is utterly manic on any given Friday. And merely a week ago, Debbie had survived a gruelling twenty-minute telephone call from the recruiter, asking her a host of survey questions. And not only that, the QC personnel from the market research agency called her too, to verify some answers.
She was nonetheless ecstatic to qualify for the study. The topic of discussion was of great interest to her… Cosmetics & Skincare, and with a $350 cash token to boot! She immediately broke the good news to her BFF Sharon, whom had referred her to the survey. The treat? Hi-tea for two at Cinnamon, their favourite hangout.
In Whose Hand Does Your Fate Lie?
Ameera, the Research Assistant, greeted Debbie as the automatic glass door closed behind her. “I’m TERRIBLY SORRY!” Debbie gasped, with great remorse. “I got lost on my way here,” she added.
“The discussion started half an hour ago. I’m afraid we cannot interrupt the session now,” Ameera replied squarely. All Debbie could muster to say, as her shoulders drooped in defeat, was… “I understand… it’s my fault anyway.”
The moment Debbie was about to step out the door, Ameera suddenly stopped her and asked, “Did you bring with you, your cosmetics and skincare products? The items required for the study?”
Debbie unzipped her shoulder handbag, and produced a candy pink Christian Dior cosmetic pouch. The ensemble inside was enough to warrant a reconsideration from Ameera. “Alright, please wait here. Let me check with the Moderator and I’ll get back to you in a bit,” Ameera offered.
Ameera walked swiftly down the hallway and returned within a minute. The approving nod from her said it all. With renewed resolve, and armed with her prized possessions in her hand, Debbie followed Ameera into the room. The one with a label on its door, that read “Focus Group In Progress”.
The Do’s And Don’ts For Respondents Attending A Focus Group Discussion
The scenario above is one of the countless true accounts that transpire at market research facilities… every day, the world over. Arriving late for a study is a definite NO-NO. However, it is at the absolute discretion of the researcher or moderator, whether or not to retain a late respondent.
As such, the onus is on the respondents to arrive early or at least, to be on time. Additionally, they need to know that their participation is crucial in every study. Because opinions, the lack of it, will adversely affect the dynamics and findings of every study.
In the event that you are invited to a focus group discussion in the not so distant future, we hope you will heed the following advice :-
1.1 Be on time for registration and refreshment, usually half an hour before the start of the discussion… this is a great window of opportunity for you to mingle and network with other respondents.
1.2 Be consistent to maintain the spoken language for the discussion… so that the others can understand what you’re saying, and are not confused.
1.3 Be articulate… express exactly what you want to say and speak out loud enough for others to hear you.
1.4 Be open and honest to share your points of view and opinions… in market research, there are no right or wrong answers.
1.5 Be respectful of others… respondents may be of different faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds. Obviously, their points of view may differ from yours.
1.6 Be properly and decently attired… office wear or smart casual is fine.
1.7 Remember to relax, have fun and enjoy the discussion… it’s meant to be that way!
2.1 Be late… no one likes to wait and have the discussion delayed.
2.2 Be domineering and argumentative… trying to override, challenge or counter others’ opinions; let them have their say as you have yours.
2.3 Be quiet or ‘just-go-with-the-flow’…make full use of your golden opportunity to voice out so that the client can do a better job in meeting consumers’ needs.
2.4 Side talk unless the moderator allows it… you will distract the others and disrupt the flow of the discussion.
2.5 Be tensed up and be shy… it’s an informal discussion, not an examination or interrogation.
Generally, the above applies to all other form of surveys in the market, i.e. single / paired / triad interviews, mini groups, home observations, site observations, accompanied shopping, etc.
What Market Research Is Not
Market research companies are not telemarketing or sales companies. They do not sell, promote or market the products and/or services of their clients to the respondents. While it may be true that data acquisition is the key component in market research, they do not disclose the personal information of the respondents to their clients. It is only at the conclusion of every study that the respondents’ opinions and feedback are included anonymously in a report by researchers to their clients.
Likewise, the market research companies also do not disclose the identity of their clients to the respondents from the beginning of the entire recruitment process to the conclusion of the study. This is to prevent respondents from having a biased opinion about them prior to the study proper. However, there is an exception to this rule, unless the clients sanction it.
Ultimately, the responses help the clients to make an informed decision in executing actionable measures to delivering better products and services to the consumers at large. The bottom line for the clients is to drive profits to their businesses.
If you’d like to find out more on how you can exercise your consumer rights through a focus group discussion, do get in touch with us today.
To understand what qualitative research is about, do read the preceding article titled “Qualitative Research – Deep Diving Into Your Insights”.
This article is part of Espoletta’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.