How Much Does a Focus Group Cost? | Focus Groups Syracuse, NY

How Much Does a Focus Group Cost?

What is the cost of conducting a focus group with the help of a third-party? You may not like this answer, but it truly depends. 

Focus groups can be customized to cater to any budget as a form of qualitative research. So if you're not happy with my answer for "how much does a focus group cost?" here's our take.

As a general rule, the average cost of a standard focus group project can range from $4,000 to $12,000. 

What is considered a standard focus group study? This likely consists of 2 groups using an independent marketing research consultant for an end to end project management.

The total cost of a focus group can be decreased or increased by asking yourself the following questions:

Already have all the answers? Contact our focus group company and we will quickly respond with an estimated quote.

If you need more clarity on how to answer these questions, we can help with that too. Keep reading!


How many focus group attendees do you want?

Recruiting for, seating, and rewarding 4 participants in your focus group is less expensive than recruiting, seating, and rewarding 12. 

Standard sizes of groups can range from as little as 4 mini-groups to 12 large groups. Smaller groups allow you to have more 1-on-1 time talking to each participant. Keep this mind. 

Groups of 12 or more can turn into organized chaos without a good moderator.

Our market research company also recommends over-recruiting for your focus groups. 

One of the golden rules in qualitative research is to always plan for some no-shows. 

While signing up 8 people for a group of 6 may sound like overkill, you will be happy you budgeted for some backup participants.


How many focus groups do you want?

Similar to the number of participants, 2 focus groups are cheaper than 4. 4 focus groups are cheaper than 6. 

As a general rule of thumb, you never want to hold just one focus group with one set of people. 

Why? Because focus group research is qualitative, it is susceptible to group bias and influence

It would be like predicting the presidential election by asking 8 people in your local town. It is important to have people with different perspectives and backgrounds in order to gather reliable data. 


How long do the focus groups need to be?

Focus groups should not last less than 60 to 90 minutes. 

Why? Because it takes about 15 to 30 minutes for participants to warm-up and feel comfortable in voicing their opinions to the moderator and other strangers. You don't want to end the groups just when momentum is building. 

Too short of focus groups also present the risk of not getting your money’s worth. The investment and effort to get a participant onsite are much higher than finding respondents for online surveys.

Nonetheless, holding a 90-minute focus group is more cost-efficient than a 2-hour group. 

It will save on​ moderator time, report writing time (less feedback), and it will give you the flexibility to pay participants less as a thank you.

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of different focus group lengths? Read more about your options here.


How much can you afford for rewards or honorariums?

Be sure to think about the monetary value of your target participants’ time. The incentive needs to be captivating enough for them to potentially step away during work hours. 

Focus groups held during evenings or weekends also have to offer a reward worthy of driving to a location across town and participating for over an hour.

To provide a little more incite, our focus group company finds $75 to $150 payouts to be the standard for B2C focus groups. 

Whereas B2B focus groups with industry professionals can exceed amounts of $500+ for 90 minutes of their time. Most B2B rewards start at $100.


Can you hold the groups locally or do you want several markets?

Holding the focus groups in your local market can cut down on travel costs and possibly make recruiting easier. 

Although geographies may differ among your customers, will behavior differ as well? Or differ enough to warrant multiple geographies to test? 

Think about this before deciding to run groups on each coast. Unless you'd like a “bacation” (business vacation). 

If you have to recruit for groups out-of-market, Facebook paid advertisements with a link to an online survey screener has proved extremely successful for our market research firm’s recruitment projects in the past. 

Use these as a cost-effective way to generate interest and then follow-up with qualified participants by phone to verify attendance.

Also consider hosting the groups in key test markets, such as Syracuse, NY. We know of an exact facility that can suit your needs 😉.


Can you recruit your own customers or do you need non-customers?

This alludes to difficulty in recruiting. If you have simple screening criteria, it will be easier to get 12 participants to sign-up. 

But if you are looking for a mix of customers and non-customers it will prove more difficult to recruit those who may have no prior relationship or awareness of your company. This will result in more hours and resources to fill the seats.

If you can create a list of customers from your own database for the groups, there are virtually no added costs to find these participants. 

This can keep the focus of your recruiting spend on scheduling and reminders to boost show rates.


​Can you hold the focus groups at a free location or is a facility needed?

Depending on local availability and rules, you may be able to rent out a community library or volunteer fire hall to host the informal focus groups if it's B2C. 

If the focus groups are a more professional audience, you may want to rent a conference room or go directly to an approved focus group facility in your area with a one-way mirror to allow for client observation

example of a 2-way mirror at a focus group facility

In some cases where confidentiality and sponsorship aren’t important, you may be able to simply host the focus groups on-site at your office. How's that for cutting down travel costs?


How do you feel about online focus groups?

If you are comfortable with research being conducted virtually, holding online focus groups is a cost-effective option to get comparable results. 

These virtual sessions look very similar to traditional in-person focus groups but occur over a video platform. 

In a post-COVID-19 world, going with an online approach here may not just be your most affordable option- it may be your only option.

So, how do online focus groups help the bottom line? 

When it comes to recruiting participants, you are no longer limited to a certain geography. Taking participant location out of the equation has real savings implications. 

On the subject of location, there is also no facility fee involved. The most you can expect to pay instead is access to a teleconferencing platform like Zoom or Skype. 

As participants, moderators, and observers join the group from the comfort of their homes, travel costs become nonexistent.

Curious about how video focus groups actually work? Here is an overview of the definition, steps, and benefits.


​Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a focus group firm in Upstate, NY serving clients across New York State and across the country.

As a full-service market research company we can consult with you to manage all aspects of a focus group project from kickoff, design, recruitment, booking of facilities, moderating, recording, and reporting.

Questions about your next focus group project? Contact us 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

tim gell - about the author

Tim Gell

As a Research Analyst, Tim is involved in every stage of a market research project for our clients. He first developed an interest in market research while studying at Binghamton University based on its marriage of business, statistics, and psychology. 

Learn more about Tim, here.


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