Why and When to Use Focus Group Discussion (FGD) to Collect Data for Market Research

One of the methods that market researchers use to collect data is focus group discussion (FGD). A focus group is a small group of carefully selected participants who contribute to open discussions for research. The group is chosen based on predefined demographic traits, such as age, gender, income, location, etc., and the discussions are designed to shed light on a topic of interest, such as a new product concept, a marketing campaign, or a customer satisfaction issue. The discussions are usually moderated by a trained facilitator who asks open-ended questions and probes further based on the responses. The discussions are also recorded and transcribed for later analysis.

But why and when should market researchers use FGDs to collect data? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method? Here are some points to consider:

Why use FGDs?

  • FGDs can provide rich and nuanced insights into the thoughts, feelings, opinions, attitudes, motivations, and behaviors of customers or potential customers. They can reveal the underlying reasons behind their preferences and choices, as well as their emotional reactions and associations with a product or service.
  • FGDs can generate new ideas and suggestions for product development or improvement. They can also help identify unmet needs or gaps in the market that can be filled by a new or improved product or service.
  • FGDs can foster a dynamic and interactive environment where participants can exchange views, challenge each other, and build on each other’s ideas. This can stimulate creativity and innovation, as well as reveal different perspectives and experiences that may not emerge in individual interviews.
  • FGDs can be relatively quick and inexpensive to conduct compared to other methods, such as surveys or experiments. They can also be flexible and adaptable to different topics and contexts.

When to use FGDs?

  • FGDs are best suited for exploratory or descriptive research purposes, where the goal is to understand the market situation, discover customer needs and wants, generate hypotheses or ideas, or evaluate initial reactions or feedback. They are not suitable for conclusive or causal research purposes, where the goal is to test hypotheses or measure effects.
  • FGDs are most effective when used in combination with other methods, such as surveys or experiments. They can be used before other methods to inform their design or after other methods to explain their results. They should not be used alone or as a substitute for other methods.
  • FGDs are most appropriate when the topic of interest is complex, sensitive, controversial, or subjective. They are not appropriate when the topic of interest is simple, factual, straightforward, or objective.

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