Incorporating Exercises into Focus Groups
9/11/15 / Mollie Boettcher
At Corona Insights, we are always researching best practices for the work we do. In the world of qualitative research, this often means best practices for conducting focus groups. Over the years, we have learned many tips and tricks for conducting focus groups, which includes incorporating exercises into our discussions. There are a wide range of exercises and activities we use depending on the topic of discussion. These exercises can include everything from drawing ideas to ranking priorities to testing messaging or ads.
Incorporating exercises into focus groups serves several important purposes:
- It gives participants an opportunity to think about topics in a different way. It can sometimes be hard for participants to fully think through a topic when they are expected to quickly answer a question. Allowing them more time to think about the topic in an exercise helps encourage different thinking and promotes answers and opinions that are below top of mind.
- It encourages those who are quiet to express their opinions. Some participants are quieter by nature, so it can be a challenge to hear their opinions in a group of 8-10 other people. Incorporating exercises, and having participants share their thought process for completing the activity ensures that even the most shy of participants are participating.
- It makes the group more interesting. Sitting in a room listening to someone ask questions for two hours can be exhausting, especially if the group takes place in the evening. Incorporating exercises into a focus group breaks up the model of the moderator asking questions and participants answering, and hopefully makes the group more fun!
- It helps breaks up group think. Sometimes if there are strong personalities in the room, or if a topic is particularly controversial, participants can act as if they agree with each other on certain topics, even if this is not truly the case. This can also happen if most participants haven’t given the topic a lot of previous thought, and a few participants have more knowledge on the topic than others. Having the participants work and think individually during an exercise ensures that the group is not being influenced by group think.
So, if you ever attend a Corona focus group, don’t be surprised to see participants doing more than just answering questions (and hopefully having more fun and expressing more thoughtful and insightful opinions because of it).