Online Focus Groups
|Date Added: February 22, 2010 02:38:52 PM|
The trouble with being a professional in the market research industry is that you are often times called upon to do the hardest things. Don’t get me wrong. I love the profession I am in and at times, I even enjoy most of the activities that go with it. But if there is some aspect of working in the industry that I really despise, it is the fact that I need to conduct focus group studies. Until I bumped into the concept of online focus groups that is!
Online focus groups have made my life so much simpler. I can’t begin to tell you how and in how many ways. In the days before online focus groups, the entire exercise had to be done in a painstakingly offline way. First the questionnaires had to be created and physically printed out. Then the suitable target group samples had to be located, and coerced into participating. Then a venue had to be sourced to accommodate all the participants and finally, the participants had to be handed physical gifts or money to thank them for their participation. But wait! The torture didn’t end there. Since most of them were in more cases than not using the age old techniques of hand written answers, the data had to be converted into a digital format by data entry operators hired explicitly for that purpose before the researcher or managed could gain access to the data to evaluate the reactions and make predictions. Phew! Just describing the process is sufficient to take my breath away.
But almost all the deficiencies of the offline method are successfully eliminated with online focus groups. Yes, the questionnaires still have to be created, but that is where the similarity ends. With online focus groups, the rest of the process can be done conveniently and comfortably from right in front of ones computer. Selection of participants becomes so much easier as the whole world becomes the participant base for you to choose from. The participants can participate in the focus group from the convenience of their own computers, no matter which part of the world they are in. More importantly, the entire process takes them very little time and they can congregate virtually if so desired. But for me personally, the fact that the data that online focus groups give me is already in a digital format and therefore much easier to analyze is the biggest plus point.
Nowadays, whenever I am asked to do a focus group study or a market research project, I jump at the opportunity. And I firmly believe that online focus groups have a major role to play in my enthusiasm.
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