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In order to adopt the right marketing strategy or business plan, organizations need to gather sufficient data on consumer behavior, which highlights their needs, preferences and lifestyle choices. Since, different target markets can exhibit different consumer behavior, therefore it is important to have a clear understanding about how the buying behavior varies from one customer base to another. Organizations often conduct various market researches in order to gather the required data for a chosen market.

The focus groups are one of the popular research methodology for exploratory studies used for identifying the key variablesthat are responsible for influencing the chosen dependent variable, which in most cases is the buying behavior.

A Focus group interview is a technique of qualitative research in a which a moderator guides a small group of participants to engage in an unstructured or semi-structured discussion on a chosen topic of interest. This group of individuals participating in the discussion is called a focus group.

Importance of Focus Groups in Research Methodology

Now that we have understood what are focus groups, let us look into the important roles that it plays in a business research. Focus groups are most commonly used applied research problems, and is often considered to be one of the most effective mode of data collection for a research. In this type of studies, a small number of individuals, ranging from 10 to 12 are brought together to participate in a discussion on a topic given by the researcher. Typically, these discussions are semi-structured and moderated to certain degree in order to ensure that the discussion stays on track. The moderator helps in steering the discussion in the right direction and also encourages interaction between the participants.

During the discussion the participants are allowed to express their feelings on the topic of discussion, which includes their emotional responses, anxieties, frustrations and personal opinions. It is the responsibility of the moderator to create a friendly environment, where the participants feel free to share their own views, unaltered. Thecore objective of performing a focus group interview is to find out the reaction of individuals towards the topic of discussion. It provides the opportunity to the researcher to gather data regarding emotional response of individuals regarding the concerned issue or topic. This data can be used to generalize the perception of the target population, thereby providing a clear idea on how the people think and feel about the issue. Based on this data, the organization can then take the necessary actions to address the issues and leverage key opportunities learned from the focus group interview.

How to Conduct a Focus Group Interview

As a business management student, you will often be required to conduct researches primary data-based researches, involving focus group interviews. So, it is important for you to learn the detailed steps on how to conduct a focus group interview. Moreover, choosing the right research methodology for your research proposal can also get it approve instantly.

Firstly, the process of performing a focus group interview involves a identifying the research problem. Typically, every research work seeks to address a key issue by offering pertinent solutions. After the problem has been identified, a qualitative research is required to explore various dimension of the concerned issue. Secondly, the researcher needs to identify the objective of the focus group interview. Although the focus group interviews do not follow any specific structure, but it is important to ensure that the discussions remain within the boundaries of the chosen topic. Thus, the researcher should clear define the areas of discussion before it begins.

Thirdly, the researcher needs to choose the right focus group members. In order to gather the required information from the discussion, it is essential that the participants have the necessary knowledge and experience on the concerned topic. Therefore, it is important for the researcher to choose the focus group members who belong to the research population. Moreover, it should also be ensured that the participants have identical demographic characteristics, in order to achieve reliable research output.

Finally, since this research process is qualitative in nature, the researcher needs to carry out careful interpretation of the data. Even though the participants have full freedom to express their views, they should be considered to be final verdict. It is the responsibility of the researcher to assess, conceptualize, and recognize the validity of the data while interpreting them. Thus, the output of the focus group interview largely depends on how they have been interpreted by the researcher.

Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Focus Groups

Focus group-based researchers are one of the most popular in the field market research, but along with its advantages its also bears certain disadvantages. Let us look at some of them before you start to write research paper on your own.

Advantages

  • Focus group interview gives the opportunity to identify the natural emotional reaction of the respondents, which can be beneficial in studies which seek to learn about the behavior of a target population.
  • It helps in learning about new ideas from the discussion of the focus group members. Moreover, engaging 10-12 participants in the discussion can help in covering all the possible dimensions of the concerned topic.
  • Being unstructured, provides more flexibility to the participants while expressing their views and opinions. They can also present other related issues associated with the main topic of discussion, thereby expanding the horizon of the study.

Disadvantages

  • During the discussion, the opinion of one individual can be easily influenced by that of another. This as a result can lead to biased research output. Some of the participants may choose not to share their full perception and views on the chosen topic.
  • The output from the focus group interviews is largely dependent on the interpretation of the researcher. Thus, there can some room for biasness in the study.
  • The data gathered from the focus group interview can not considered as conclusive, as they are public opinions gathered from a very small sample group. In order to attain a more reliable result, further structured researches are required.

While choosing the right data collection methodology for your essay online, you should be careful about their advantages and disadvantages. As we have seen above, using focus group interviews can be both beneficial as well disadvantageous. Therefore, you need to properly identify your research problem and objectives before deciding on using a focus group interview. A focus group interview is most suitable when there the research paper seeks to find out about the perception or reaction of a group of people, such as the customers in a market or the employees in an organization or industry. However, you should also make sure that your interpretation is not biased in any way, so that the reliability of the study is maintained.

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