Best Cities for Focus Groups | 5 Factors to Consider

Determining the best place to host a focus group is no easy task. If you are in charge of making the decision or making recommendations for your team, you'll likely be overwhelmed by the number of cities and choices within each city which offer a facility.

Choices. Choices.

We are here to help.

If you are looking for the best cities for focus groups, this post will help to guide you to making the right decision. I will give you some factors to consider when making your choice and why each of those factors matter. This will help narrow down your list for your focus groups and focus your efforts. Pun intended.

Want to hold a focus group? Not sure what city to host it in? Let Drive Research help.

A focus group is a form of qualitative market research which includes a group of participants (typically 4 to 12). The participants are seated in a large conference-style room with a moderator facilitating the discussion.

Here are the 5 factors to consider and help you determine the best cities for a focus group.

Factor 1: Mirroring Your Target Audience

Fact is fact. You want to host your focus groups in a city which provides you access to your target population. If you are looking for low-income home owners, you probably do not want to hold a focus group on Wall Street in Manhattan (NYC). Conversely, if you are targeting renters you do not want to host a focus group in the farm lands of Iowa.

Ultimately, if you are like many organizations you want to find a city which mirrors your target population or can at least provide a mix of all types of demographics. Suburban American cities like Syracuse, NY and other Upstate New York cities (Albany, Rochester, etc.) have long been considered as great test market locations.


The population of the immediate Syracuse area mirrors America as a whole. Essentially, it is not only easy to match the nation's demographics with a recruit in Syracuse, but because the area has access to all types of demographics, it also is easier to find whatever mix you may want to target.

Factor 2: Low Cost

Next you need to determine your budget. Sure it would be nice to host a focus group in Lower Manhattan NYC or San Francisco with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Can you afford it?

Large cities often command large rental fees, higher parking costs, and higher food costs for participants and clients. This higher cost echoes through the line by line expenses.

Is it worth it?

Smaller cities across the U.S. can work just as well for focus groups at a much lower cost. Test market cities in Upstate New York have long been used because of the low cost options for not only the facility but for media purchases as well.

If a brand is launching a new product in a market, they will likely want to test out the marketing and advertising as well. This can get expensive in the Tri-State or NYC area compared to an isolated market like Syracuse or Albany.

Something to keep in mind if you plan to take any next steps in-market post-focus groups.

Factor 3: Easy Accessibility

Often underrated in the selection but extremely valued if you realize the focus group facility doesn't have it.

What are we talking about?

Easy accessibility.

Accessibility means easy to get to.

First this means the focus group facility is easy to get to for the client team. This often involves team members flying into the area. Therefore the facility should be within a few minutes of the airport.

Second, the facility should be easy to get to for participants. Look for a facility with easy highway access and quick turns once you are off the highway to limit confusion or drive time for participants which will impact show rate.

Third, find a facility that offers on-site parking. Particularly free on-site parking. Nothing discourages a participant more from attending the focus group than if they do not know where to park when they get there. Or if the group is in the middle of the winter and they need to walk 10 blocks to the focus group facility, it can be a barrier to attending.

Accessibility means all of this.

Factor 4: Ability to Stream Offsite Affordably

Let's talk about some of the sub-factors now from a technology standpoint. Your company may not be able to afford to send 10 members of the team to fly cross-country to attend the groups on-site. Therefore, find a facility that offers the option to stream off-site.

This way, your team can sit at their cozy office or even at home to watch the groups live. It is like being there without being there.

Check with the facility on these costs. Several facilities charge an arm and a leg for this, but the reality is this can be done fairly inexpensively and just as well using some newer streaming options.

Factor 5: Bells and Whistles

Okay, now you might have your list down to 2 or 3 cities with a few facilities in each. What next? Consider some other features and benefits which will differentiate one facility from another which may help guide which city to choose.​

  • Free on-site Wi-Fi with fast download and upload speeds.
  • HDTV recording capabilities for clear digital files to watch after the groups end.
  • Chat functionality on the streaming link to discuss the group live with team.
  • High quality beam array microphone in the room to capture 360 degree audio.
  • Strong speakers in the client viewing room to relay back sound and discussion.
  • Wireless sharing and screen mirroring in the focus group room to share visuals.
  • Large HDTV to share visuals during the group with participants.

Contact Our Focus Group Facility in Upstate New York

Drive Research is a focus group facility in Syracuse, part of Upstate New York. Questions about our facility or need a quote to rent our facility? Contact us 1 of 4 ways below. Or all 4 if you're feeling ambitious. We don't mind.

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