In the initial stage of ideation or product development, it is imperative to conduct market research so as to identify your consumers’ underlying preferences. Depending on the purpose of the study and the credibility of research data, one can resort to a suitable medium to collect information from prospective customers. Here comes the pivotal role of focus groups. They facilitate direct interaction with the target audience to infer consumer characteristics and identify current market trends.
To leverage the benefits of this qualitative study approach, you should have an in-depth understanding of what focus groups are and why they are labeled as an exploratory tool for product market research.
What is a focus group?
A focus group is an effective qualitative market research technique used to explore the mindset, perception, and decision-making process of potential customers about a new product or service. In this process, a group of carefully selected participants (usually ranging from 6 – 8 individuals) contribute to a moderated open discussion sharing their feedback and attitude towards a new product, its features, or other related concepts to provide insights on its potential market acceptance. The participants get to interact and influence each other during the course of discussion guided and facilitated by a skilled moderator. Focus groups can vary in size depending on the nature of the topic to be discussed.
Lately, focus groups have developed into a widely accepted and reliable form of research methodology for many organizations. They act as a medium to formulate new ideas and determine the value proposition in the early stage of a product life cycle making it a time-saving and cost-effective opportunity.
Why rely on focus groups?
Market research has always laid the foundation for successful business ventures as it provides relevant data to gauge the viability of a product/service/concept focusing on the target audience, competitive landscape, and industry trends. Many entrepreneurs bypass this crucial phase for the sheer interest of immediately launching their product in the market. They fail to realize that it is a future investment where they can reap the benefit of saving both time and money in the long run. Therefore before developing a business strategy, research your market space to understand the prospects of your product.
Even though surveys and questionnaires are also a means to conduct market research, they cannot capture the respondents’ attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and spontaneous reactions as efficiently as in a focus group. Besides the quantitative data collected through surveys, running focus groups is a pivotal point to drive qualitative data in order to substantiate the feasibility of a business.
Simple feasibility study
Feasibility analysis is on top priority for business organizations to develop a practical approach to strategic planning and resource allocation. It comprises an in-depth analysis of proposed solutions to a problem identified and a recommendation on the best alternative. The results of this preliminary study are used to ascertain the likelihood of a project’s success before committing resources, budget, or time.
1. Is there a market for your product/business idea?
You might have stumbled upon an idea that could drastically change the consumer life of your target audience or you have plans to render a service not hosted by anyone else in related spheres of business, then seize the opportunity to evaluate its market scope. The primary step in formulating a business plan is to determine the acceptability of your product or concept amidst the potential customers. This is where a focus group comes into play. It facilitates discussion with your customer base generating open-ended and detailed on-the-spot responses enabling the decision-makers to proceed with the plan or to table it. The base idea is to validate the product by assessing whether it addresses the unmet needs of your target market. After all, organizational desire is not to invest a huge amount of money for product development and then after its launch realize that it was not up to your customer expectations.
Another major concern is to evaluate the value quotient of your product/service in customer retention. If your plan is to devise a revamped version of an existing product, ensure to implement features that enhance their customer experience. A focus group becomes the medium to draw upon an idea of the factors that would convince your customers to become loyal to your brand. It helps to equate the proposed value of the product with the perceived value stated by your existing customers. Treat positive feedback and constructive criticism with high regard and equal importance to incorporate any fine-tuning.
2. Competitor analysis: How much competition do you have?
Every business is prone to the risk of having competitors looking for opportunities to snatch your customers away. To develop a successful market strategy it’s inevitable to keep track of your competitors. Customer acquisition and retention become equally challenging in a market space with the untraceable competition.
You don’t want to replicate what is already available in the market. The moto here being to stand out from your competition, it’s mandatory to keep a close watch of your current competitors without ignoring the potential future competitors. Most importantly, to have a superior market space formulate ideas that will ultimately benefit your customers. Addressing the pain points and posing solutions in the form of a product or service will never fail to impress.
To assess the uniqueness and customer benefits of your product, the reliable practice for market research is to directly interact with your target audience through focus groups. Their insights will provide you a clear picture of the potential threats, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses of your new business plan.
Running focus groups will provide you with in-depth responses on the success rate of the product even before it’s launched for public accessibility. If you have focussed more on the features and less on the benefits, eliciting customer feedback will help you pivot your strategy and translate the features into solutions for your users. Thus it becomes a platform to make you realize if your product is generic or if it has the X factor that sets you apart from your competition.
Benefits of a focus group
Probing into the multifaceted capabilities of a focus group will help us draw the conclusion that it is a productive method to drive first-hand information from the consumer base about the new product or service. Let’s take a look at the advantages guaranteed by this market research tool for business ventures.
- Measure the spontaneous customer behavior and gain valuable insights into their perceptions of your new product or company strategy even before its launch or execution.
- Identify the requirements of the end-users that are not addressed and develop ideas to accommodate improvements.
- Facilitating a dynamic discussion helps in sharing unbiased opinions to enhance the veracity of the data collected.
- Observe non-verbal responses that include facial expressions and body-language mirroring the participant’s thought process.
- Spirited discussions help in decoding complex statistical data as there is a provision to ask follow-up questions to gain clarity over a specific customer perception.
- Opportunity for the organization to overview the focus group session from behind a one-way mirror to ensure that the data is not diluted.
- A comprehensive focus group accelerates a product’s journey to the marketplace with a better assurance of the consistent value it is ought to deliver.
When to conduct a focus group?
Focus groups help to delve deeper into complicated research topics that require collective views where the consumer attitude is conditional or in scenarios where assessing the viability of the product/solution depends on multifarious behavior or motivation. They act as a handy tool where “why”, “what” and “how” questions require further probing by an in-depth exploration of customer perceptions through direct interaction.
Focus groups can be used as a stand-alone method for data collection where it is the only principal source of data or they can work in tandem with quantitative study either before a survey to identify the areas of concern or after a survey seeking an explanation to support the statistical data. As qualitative data lacks statistical precision, the best practice is to couple focus groups with surveys especially when the customer base is extensive.
Listing the typical market situations that demand focus groups :
- To authenticate the statistical information gained from written surveys.
- To determine the value proposition of a new product/service before its launch in the market.
- Ensure the functionality of the product to contribute to the benefits enjoyed by the target audience
- For prototype testing where the product is introduced to a selected segment of prospective customers. This helps to unravel working practices by inspecting how effectively the product addresses the business needs and pain points.
- To explore the success rate of a new concept and to spark off innovative ideas through mutual interaction.
VOGO Voice as a full-service company collaborates with government entities and business organizations to harness the potential of voice technology by building professional, intelligent and reliable voice apps. We help enterprises overcome the threat of market saturation by incorporating this trending technology as a prospective solution to address customer pain points. Devising a customer-fit voice app ensures better connectivity with your target audience to promote brand loyalty and retention. Our motto is to stay customer-focused while developing a voice strategy for your brand.
Validated learning is of supreme importance to initiate customer-led business planning.
This paved the way for us to run focus groups to analyze the rational adoption decisions and unmet needs of the target audience. Furthermore, we get to hear what the customer wants from his own voice. Our well-crafted focus group process helps to validate the utility and acceptability of customized voice apps by eliciting genuine feedback from a representative customer segment.
To tackle the voice landscape project your voice strategy as a long term benefit and not just as a technological innovation. Always think of how your app would add value to the user, be it a conversational app or a business touchpoint for your customer. Validate the voice apps through focus groups and use the qualitative insights to revise and refine ensuring a tailored and seamless customer experience. It’s time to think about rendering a suitable expression for your brand through voice.
VOGO Voice designs and builds engaging voice skills for industries including education, civic, transportation, business, and nonprofits using our robust voice user interface platform that allows data integration and in-depth customization. VOGO Voice build you the best of class voice app that is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Get in touch with our professional team today to hand your citizens, customers, and workforce a high-definition voice-activated solution to keep pace with their demand.