Why Focus Groups Are Important for New Product Development

Producing a new product is a time-consuming process that requires research and development (R&D) on a deep level. While the initial idea for the product can come internally from asking the right questions, it is not enough.

You have to go beyond the ideas of your team and collect insight from the people who matter most: your target market.

Market research for new product development can act as a gut check for what you may think is an ingenious product or service. Research can showcase how successful or unsuccessful your new idea will be, before wasting too much time or money.

While there are various studies available for product developers, our market research company often recommends focus groups as our top choice. What is the importance and benefits of focus groups when developing a new product? Learn more in this blog post.  

why focus groups are important for new product development

A focus group can provide critical feedback directly from your target audience before launching a product into the market. Learn how to leverage consumer data to ensure the success of this new venture.


What is a Focus Group?

According to Physics Today, “focus groups are most effective when the research wants to collect descriptive, detailed data on the experiences of numerous people. And they are best used for answering questions.”

Our focus group company defines this methodology as a group of individuals—selected or assembled by researchers—to discuss and comment on a product or topic based on personal experience. It’s a form of group interviewing that relies on interaction within the group.

The main goal of a focus group, according to Dr. Anita Gibbs from Oxford University, is to “draw upon respondents’ attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions in a way in which would not be feasible using other methods.”


The Importance of Focus Groups

Compared to individual interviews or online surveys, focus groups are particularly valuable when trying to explore consensus on a given product or topic. They are especially helpful for helping your team generate hypotheses, develop questions, and understand concepts.

In particular, there are five key benefits to focus groups that should not be underestimated for new product development.

1. Explore More than Quantitative Data

Focus groups are a qualitative market research study—meaning they are exploratory in nature. They provide a highly flexible and alternative way to obtain consumer information without using a survey. Focus groups offer the distinct advantage of helping your team gain valuable, actionable insight into your product or services.

For example, let's say you conducted a survey and found that 75% of your target customers rely on reviews when purchasing a new product. By using a focus group, you can explore more into the "what" and the "why?"

  • What review sites do customers look to for products similar to yours?
  • What is considered a positive rating? 3 stars and above, or higher?
  • Why are online reviews so important?

The goal of a focus group is not to necessarily reach some level of agreement or decide what to do. Instead, the idea should be to identify feelings, perceptions, and thoughts about a particular topic. Then, your team is able to use this quality qualitative data to make adjustments to your marketing, sales, etc.

2. Collect Different Opinions All at Once

Surveys can be somewhat cumbersome. You typically send out your questionnaire to hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals and then wait weeks to get enough responses back. This process may be shorter or longer depending on who your target audience is and how many responses you would like to collect.

On the other hand, a focus group generally consists of 4-12 people who are most similar to your target demographic. If choosing to conduct focus groups, look for a company that also specializes in qualitative recruiting. This will assure those participating in your group discussion are highly targeted and qualified.

With focus groups, you don't have to wait days or weeks to collect feedback from these people. Instead, within a 60 to 90-minute focus group, a moderator can touch on everything you need to know instantly.

When a focus group company, like Drive Research, conducts this type of new product development research your team gains instant insight into your customers—their behaviors, attitudes, feelings, perceptions, and opinions—all at once. There’s no wondering how it all works together. You can identify patterns and trends immediately.

3. Create an Interactive Environment

In-person interaction is always highly valuable. There’s a reason why companies prefer in-person interviews compared to video interviews—you just can’t get the same feedback online. The same goes for focus groups compared to surveys, especially when it comes to evaluating your product.

Focus groups allow people to physically see, touch, smell, and use your product. In this way, you get their full feedback or reaction to your product. It’s immensely helpful when it comes to enhancing or changing your product based on actual user experience.

Considering an online focus group? We compare the advantages and disadvantages of traditional vs. online focus groups, here.

4. Support New Business Decisions with Facts and Evidence

As explained above, the value of a focus group is to gain feedback on your product or service immediately in an interactive environment. What this means is that you can solve mistakes before introducing your product to the market.

The entire point of a focus group is to reduce serious gaps between what your internal team thinks and what your customers think and feel.

The key is to conduct focus groups throughout the development process. A market research study does not have to be one and done, but more of a continual process.

You don’t want to wait until the very end to get feedback from your target demographic. Instead, you should plan multiple focus groups throughout the product development process to gain immediate feedback on each phase.

If anything, our market research company recommends conducting two focus groups - one in the initial stages of concept testing, and another when you have a physical product.

5. Focus Groups Drill Down into Customer Wants and Needs

Products and services must constantly change to adapt to the changing needs and wants of customers. Focus groups offer a great way to drill down into these ever-changing needs to identify what matters most to your target demographic. They’re a great way to sit down with your customers and learn something new.


Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research company located in Upstate, NY. We can help implement a focus group project to assist with the creation of your new product, service, or program. Whether it is recruiting the right focus group participants, or hosting focus groups at our facility - we have you covered!

 

To learn more about our services, reach out through any of the four ways below.

 

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

New Product Development Focus Groups