Qualitative research methodologies serve to provide color and nuance to quantitative results, as well as standing on their own as a valuable research tool.
Public Opinion Strategies has conducted thousands of focus groups in all parts of the country, as well as internationally.
In-Person Focus Groups:
Focus groups are a gathering of roughly 8-10 respondents for discussion on a particular topic. The purpose of focus groups is to explore in-depth different messaging, language and test respondent detailed reaction to certain stimuli or informational materials. By their very nature focus groups add a depth of understanding to any research question – they tell a skilled researcher “why,” “how,” and “what” in a way that other research techniques simply cannot.
Focus groups are a good starting point in the research process, because language matters – and focus groups provide invaluable insight into how to structure information and help determine what is working or not working. This type of research is a core step in developing effective and successful messages or products. We use a number of unique focus group techniques to test messaging, language, informational materials, and creative executions, which aid in eliciting interesting ideas and concepts from respondents. We use multiple levels of emotional-psychological projective exercises and deep-dive probes in our creative groups.
Focus groups are conducted in professional focus group facilities. These facilities provide the client with an interactive opportunity to view the groups as they take place via a one-way mirror. This also allows for interaction with the moderator and provides for spontaneous probes and questions during the groups. All groups are audio and video recorded, and we have the capabilities for groups to be webcast to help alleviate travel for the client to multiple cities.
A triad focus group is smaller in size (number of participants is usually three) and shorter in length (usually one to one and a half hours) than a traditional focus group. We suggest triads for more targeted and/or harder-to-reach audiences, as they tend to work better in smaller groups. Triad focus groups just like standard focus groups allow for in-depth discussion about issues, as well as reactions to specific products or initiatives. Triads are conducted in professional focus group facilities. These facilities provide the client with an interactive opportunity to view the groups as they take place via a one-way mirror. This also allows for interaction with the moderator and provides for spontaneous probes and questions during the groups. All groups are audio and video recorded, and we have the capabilities for groups to be webcast to help alleviate travel for the client to multiple cities.
Internet Focus Groups:
Sometimes in-person focus groups are not possible if a project involves a highly targeted audience or the audience is geographically scattered. In these cases we often conduct focus groups on the Internet. There are two different methodologies we have used for conducting online focus groups:
- 1.Real-Time Focus Groups. This methodology allows us to interact in real-time with a small or large group of participants; you can ask closed- or open-ended questions; you can engage participants in free-form discussions; and you can test virtually any kind of message media. This methodology would be similar to having an instant message discussion with multiple people. How does it work? At a specific day and time, the session is launched. Using any recent browser version, participants simply log in and go. Sessions can be thirty to ninety minutes in duration and can include up to 30 participants. The moderator can easily create new questions or new free-form discussions “on-the-fly.” Clients are able to log into a session as observers as they take place.
- 2.Bulletin Board Focus Groups. This methodology allows respondents to log into the discussion group at times during the day that are convenient to them, answering questions posted by a moderator while reading and responding to other participants’ posts. Respondents can also view printed materials, advertising and animatics online for evaluation. All of the discussion is visible on-screen to the moderator, the participants, and clients. These discussion groups take place over a period of time – typically 3-5 days – with respondents participating twice a day each day. Because of the longer timeframe and the come-and-go nature of the discussion most groups have roughly 15-20 respondents. Some advantages to using online bulletin board discussion groups: the longer timeframe provides more in-depth and detailed responses; Respondents are participating for 3-5 days, rather than 90-120 minutes; One online bulletin board discussion equates to the same amount of information as yielded by roughly three in-person focus groups; Ability to present stimuli, gather feedback, refine concepts and re-present to the same group of involved respondents; Participants have time to reflect, re-visit and add new thoughts; and, Respondents do not feel time pressures and can read and post at their convenience, providing more thoughtful information and feedback.
Perception Analyzer™ dial groups share both qualitative and quantitative aspects: they are qualitative like traditional in-person focus groups in that a small number of people are interviewed in a group setting, quantitative in that real-time data is collected through a wireless hand-held device and PC set-up. Perception Analyzers utilize a real-time response measurement research technique used to gather instantaneous data from a group of respondents who are subjected to an input stimulus, for example a speech or a television commercial.
Complete demographic profiles can be run for the data collected, and clients in attendance can see the results as they are collected. Dial groups are especially useful in comparing advertising, either within the same line, i.e., to test which ad for a product or concept works best, or against your competitor’s advertising. In addition, this technique is well-suited to measuring reaction to television shows, company videos and other message and content-driven materials, such as speeches, sales presentations, corporate reports, and brochures.
Roughly 30-40 respondents are recruited for a dial group session. The dial session is roughly 45 minutes to an hour and then respondents are broken up into smaller focus group discussion sessions of roughly 10-15 respondents.
Dial groups are conducted in professional focus group facilities. These facilities provide the client with an interactive opportunity to view the groups as they take place via a one-way mirror. This also allows for interaction with the moderator and provides for spontaneous probes and questions during the groups. All groups are audio and video recorded, and we have the capabilities for groups to be webcast to help alleviate travel for the client to multiple cities.
Public Opinion Strategies has used this technique successfully for advertising testing, both message and visual content, for a number of clients. We have completed hundreds of Perception Analyzer™ groups, testing material such as political campaign ads, corporate ads, candidate speeches, public awareness spots, segments of television shows as well as radio ads.
We have used Perception Analyzer™ dials to do extensive media testing at the presidential campaign level, for major health care initiatives, and for a variety of corporate clients.
Executive One-on-One In-Depth Interviews (IDIs)
One-on-one in-depth interviewing can be conducted over the telephone or in-person depending on the sensitivity of the subject matter to be explored. This research methodology allows us to speak with very targeted or hard-to-reach audiences. IDIs allow for a slightly more in-depth, candid discussion and probing on specific issues than a traditional focus group. We explore in-depth what is most important to individual respondent and how an issue personally affects them. These interviews give a more detailed look at an individual’s attitudes and feelings about an issue and what language resonates most with an individual. The interview is roughly 30 minutes to an hour in length.