5 Must-Have Features of an Observation Room for Focus Groups

If you are conducting qualitative market research that involves an observation room, you have probably done your research on a few different focus group facilities to host your study.

How do you know what market research facility is best for you? What focus group facility will best accommodate your specific observational needs?

Here are 5 things to consider when you are evaluating your options. Some are more basic than others but all provide value-adds in your choice of facility for your market research needs.

What is an Observation Room?

An observation room, oftentimes referred to as a viewing room, is used in a focus group facility for purposes of qualitative market research.

Observation rooms allow researchers and clients to sit and watch focus groups or in-depth interviews through a one-way mirror.

observation room at Drive Research

Observation Room at Drive Research

The Value of a Good Observation Room for Focus Groups

Overall, a good observation room for focus groups plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate data collection, fostering participant comfort and honesty, promoting collaboration, and facilitating real-time feedback and analysis.

Let's dive into each of these key benefits a bit more.

1. Unobtrusive observation

An observation room allows researchers, clients, or stakeholders to observe the focus group discussions without being physically present in the same room.

This non-intrusive environment enables participants to express themselves freely and behave naturally, without feeling self-conscious or influenced by the observers' presence.

2. Enhanced objectivity

With a good observation room, researchers can observe and record participants' behaviors, facial expressions, body language, and interactions without directly participating in the discussion.

This objectivity helps in drawing accurate conclusions and making informed decisions based on the observed data.

3. Privacy and comfort

Because focus group discussions are not directly monitored, an observation room provides an added layer of privacy for the participants.

As a result, this type of setting encourages participants to share their honest opinions and experiences, promoting more open and authentic responses.

Moreover, the room should be comfortable, with appropriate seating arrangements and amenities, ensuring participants' comfort and reducing distractions.

4. Efficient collaboration

By being present in the same room, researchers and clients can discuss and exchange ideas, insights, and interpretations in real time. This collaborative environment enhances the analysis process and helps in generating comprehensive and well-rounded findings.

Must-Have Observation Room Features

Feature #1: Dimmable lighting

One of the key benefits of using an observation room is that participants will feel more comfortable during a group study because researchers or observers are not sitting in the actual focus group room.

For context, a focus group usually consists of 4 to 12 participants and only 1 moderator guiding the conversation.

A viewing room with dimmable lighting means the lights can be both on and off.

When the lights are off...

When the group discussion is taking place, the lights of the observation room will be dimmed or off completely.

The low lighting allows researchers and clients to discretely watch and listen with no visibility through the one-way mirror.

When the lights are on...

Before and after the focus group, a moderator will often come back to the observation room to discuss topics, objectives, or recap the findings with the client.

In this case, the lights of the observation room are turned on. This creates an open Worksession for the client viewers without having to switch to another room with better lighting.

Feature #2: Comfort, tiered seating

Much like a movie theater, an observation room benefits from having tiered seating.

If there are multiple members of an organization looking to sit in the viewing room, it is important they are able to see the qualitative research without any obstructions. With tiered seating in an observation room, there are no bad seats.

Not only is it important to look for an observation room with tiered seating, but comfortable chairs as well.

Focus groups can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours – and that is only for one group.

Our focus group company recommends hosting two separate group discussions in one evening. The second group acts as a gut check to verify the findings from the first group.

While having two group discussions is beneficial, this also means you will be sitting in an observation room for a lengthy amount of time.

An observational room with cushioned seating will provide maximum comfort and allow for your full attention throughout both focus group discussions.

Feature #3: Accessibility to high-speed Wi-Fi

If you are looking to rent a focus group facility, it is important to know what available technology and equipment you will have access to in an observation room.

Does the viewing room include free high-speed internet?

What about available outlets to charge client laptops or phones?

We understand your business doesn’t stop while market research of any kind is being conducted.

While these features might seem small at the time, they will be largely missed if you do not have access to Wi-Fi or a charging station for several hours.

Keeping small requirements in mind will help toward an optimal viewing experience.

Feature #4: Quality speakers

Can you hear me now? Good.

An observation room should be fitted with high-quality speakers for clients to clearly hear and understand the participant responses in the focus group room. The speakers can also be adjusted by volume.

If clients or researchers in the observation room would like to have a quick conversation with one another while the group discussion is taking place, the volume of the speaker can be lowered or muted to sound out the participants.

Don’t be worried about missing a vital piece of information while the group discussion is muted.

A focus group facility room will be equipped with a camera and other audio devices so the qualitative research can be recorded.

At the end of the group discussion, you will likely receive a USB with the recorded focus group to take back to the office and re-watch as many times as you’d like.

Feature #5: Food and beverage

Wine, beer, chips, chocolate…am I starting to speak your language?

Because focus groups are longer than most types of market research methodologies, look for a focus group facility that provides snacks and drinks in their client observation room.

While some facilities may only offer the standard coffee and water, it is not uncommon to find a focus group company that will have a dedicated client beverage refrigerator to chill drinks (with and without alcohol) and snacks.

Our market research company hopily offers our clients a wide variety of snacks and drinks in our observation room.

What can we say? We’re not just your run-of-the-mill focus group facility, we want you to enjoy yourself.

We realize those flights or drives can create a long day. Sometimes an adult beverage or hot coffee can make the experience more fulfilling at our focus group facility in Syracuse.

Observation Room Example

Take a virtual tour of our focus group facility at Drive Research to see the key features of our observation room.

Our Syracuse, New York facility includes a state-of-the-art client observation room. For a full tour of the facility watch the video below. Skip to 3:30 for a tour of our observation room.

Contact Our Focus Group Facility in Syracuse

Interested in learning more about the Drive Research focus group facility? Contact our team below for more information.

We can assist with specific pieces of your qualitative research recruit and rental as well as assist your team with the entire project management, including moderation and reporting.

We can help!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Rodgers

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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