When it comes to recruiting for focus groups, there is the easy way, and the right way. Working in the market research industry for about 15 years, it becomes easier to point out the difference. Yet, organizations far too frequently opt for the easy and inexpensive route.
Focus groups are one of the most common methodologies in market research. Because of this, many organizations opt to try to run their own focus groups internally. The groups are often developed on a whim among professionals with little to no experience in the field.
As a result, running the focus groups and generating insights actually causes more harm than good. More harm because the groups are often made up of friends of friends which is not representative of the company's target market.
Although focus groups are qualitative research, measures must be taken to ensure you recruit the correct audience for your sessions. If you do not avoid these mistakes, your focus group project may fail.
Even worse? The groups may still be held and your strategy will be guided by heavily biased feedback sending your organization in the wrong direction.
Here are 3 mistakes often made with focus group recruiting. Avoid these mistakes to ensure you set your market research project up for success.
Mistake 1: Not Offering Large Enough Rewards
From a budgeting standpoint, it would be great to host groups and receive feedback from customers and members for free. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The going minimum for a 90-minute to 2-hour focus group with consumers starts at $75. If you try to offer any less you will run into a lot of difficult generating enough interest for the recruit.
Higher rewards sets expectations with respondents that they are being offered a nice reward for quality feedback. Anything less and they will likely give less.
If you have specific requirements beyond accepting all of those interested (i.e. specific age groups, education levels, incomes, etc.) the lower reward will make your job more difficult.
If the focus groups are B2B where you are recruiting business professionals, you'll likely want to start with at least $100. B2B recruits are always more challenging than B2C.
We like to think an engaging discussion, a chance to offer feedback, and free food and beverage will make a difference but this is not the case. Consumers are smart enough nowadays to understand the going-rate for focus groups.
The other unfortunate outcome of low rewards is the turn-out or show rate. Although some people may agree to join the discussion, a smaller rewards equals smaller commitment. It is human nature. If the group is offering $250, you can bet the turnout rate will be a lot higher than a reward of $50 or $75.
Mistake 2: Waiting for Them to Come to You
In order to fill a focus group it takes time and effort. Simply throwing out a message and waiting for sign-ups doesn't work for a number of reasons.
First, the people who do sign-up are likely going to be the extremes for your brand. They will either love you or hate you. Therefore the focus group will not be representative.
Second, the people who sign-up are likely ones who are extroverts and have possibly participated in market research or focus groups in the past. Perhaps too often, where they become professional focus group participants and cash in on continual rewards.
Regardless, they are not the type of participant you want. Part of recruiting a representative group is finding people who would otherwise not be interested and having them participate. This ensures you have a mix on the day of the focus group(s).
Mistake 3: Relying on Organic Shares to Get the Message Out
Perhaps the biggest mistake of them all. Market research selection needs to include some resemblance of random sampling. Whether it is an online survey, in-depth interviews (IDIs), intercept surveys, or a focus group, some level of randomness is assumed.
If you only use organic shares to your network on LinkedIn or Facebook to recruit for groups you'll end up with friends and friends-of-friends. This is the definition of a friend network on social media.
At Drive Research we use social media for market research recruitment, but use paid advertisements. These paid advertisements are shown to random users within a geography to help broaden our outreach.
These participants sign-up through an online survey before being screened through a phone call. It is a calculated approach to ensure a randomized audience is recruited, even for something as small as 8 or 10 participants in a focus group.
Worst of all, if there is no randomness your decisions and action items based on data is based on a small group of biased friends and connections. Not of a representative audience of customers and non-customers.
It could completely send your company strategy and marketing efforts in the wrong direction. You end up making changes for a few, while the large majority of the market needs or wants something else.
If you are going to conduct market research, do it the right way and spend a little extra on rewards and random recruitment, or simply hire a market research firm to assist.
Contact Our Focus Group Recruitment Company
Drive Research is a qualitative recruitment company located in Syracuse, NY. We work with organizations across the country to assist with recruiting for market research.
No project is too large or too small for our team. Questions? Contact us.