Focus Groups vs. Survey Research | How to Choose a Market Research Methodology

Market research is one of the most important things a company can invest in as part of their business strategy. It can help an organization begin to fully understand its competition, market trends, and consumers’ wants, needs, and habits. It helps companies answer questions that influence decision-making and strategy, and can eventually result in a greater return on investment (ROI).

Focus groups are a popular qualitative market research method. Surveys, however, are a great quantitative market research method.

So how do you know which method is best for your company’s research needs?

Want to learn how to choose the right market research methodology? We’ve got you covered.

Focus Groups vs. Survey Research | How to Choose a Market Research Methodology

Focus groups or surveys? Learn how to choose wisely.

Focus Groups: What are they?

A focus group is when a selected gathering of people participate in a discussion together. Typically, the objectives are to learn about perceptions of a particular product, company, or idea. Focus groups are led by a mediator who asks questions to participants and often encourages discussion between the participants.

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of focus groups?

Here's more about how focus groups work.

Survey Research: What is it?

Survey research is a popular method for collecting data about a specific population. Survey research includes two key features, sampling and questionnaires. Sampling is used when a specific subgroup of the target demographic is selected and given a survey filled with questions.

Data collected from surveys can be generalized and expanded to represent a larger target audience. Surveys simply are a series of questions individuals answer, whose results can be collected and analyzed.

Looking for survey tips? Here at the top 5 market research survey tips.

Focus Groups: Why should you use it?

Focus groups are a great way to collect information and data for a number of reasons. Due to their conversational nature, focus groups allow participants to interact and discuss topics which each other during the discussion (which can lead to insightful comparisons).

This fosters the consideration of ideas and perspectives of the other participants. This is beneficial because participants can really fine-tune their thoughts, making data more accurate for the company to use well.

Qualitative data can be more difficult to compartmentalize than quantitative data might be, but seeing into the minds of the consumer can be extremely valuable. Since focus groups are designed to be flexible, companies are able to capitalize on the ability of the moderator to ask pointed follow up questions and converse with participants about topics of interest.

Focus groups are not created to bring the participant group to a consensus or decision. The goal of focus groups are to identify thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that can help a company strategize.

Want to see a real-life example of how focus groups can be successful?

Here’s a case study from our work with Syracuse Athletics.

Survey Research: Why should you use it?

Survey research has advantages. Two of the most important advantages are cost-effectiveness and efficiency. Focus groups require a lot of set-up time, compensating a moderator, booking a focus group facility, and compensating participants. However, surveys can be executed quickly and sent out through email and/or shared online which keeps costs down.

Additionally, survey sampling allows companies to accurately estimate characteristics of a larger population. For large or widely dispersed populations, this is a huge benefit and makes the use of survey research sensible.

Check out a recently completed online survey about higher education project by Drive Research.

Contact our Focus Group and Survey Team at Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research firm in Syracuse, NY offering a wide-range of marketing research services. Our market research team has experience conducting focus groups and survey research, and give teams the information needed to make data-driven strategies.

Questions about how Drive Research can help? Send us an email at or message us on our website.

You can also call us at 888-725-DATA or text us at 315-303-2040.

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