How to Develop a Panel for Focus Groups | Market Research Firm

Developing a panel to then use to recruit from for focus groups, qualitative interviews, and surveys can be a long-term money saver. Rather than trying to recruit a completely fresh audience for each new project, and panel provides you with a group of pre-recruited individuals to participate in your market research.

A panel can help you recruit participants for your focus groups efficiently without draining your market research project budget. Here is theoretical example of the objectives behind a focus group panel, the approach, and the potential benefits.

How to Develop a Panel for Focus Groups | Market Research Firm


Organizations hire market research firms like Drive Research to recruit participants for focus groups across the country. The focus groups are used for a variety of B2C or B2B purposes with each project having its own unique objectives. The focus group panel recruitment involves recruiting a base of participants as part of an initial panel and building a continual pool of sign-ups. A standard focus group typically recruits 12 participants so 8 to 10 will show and participate.


To address the objectives at-hand, the focus group panel recruitment services provided by Drive Research will include all of the project management, screener design, programming, recruitment, and rewards fulfillment. Drive Research utilizes an online recruitment survey to find targeted participants using its digital marketing expertise. This process has worked extremely well for both B2C and B2B qualitative recruitment projects across the U.S. finding niche audiences and producing high participation rates.

Drive Research follows an exclusive in-house approach our team has built for qualitative recruitment projects. Our method uses a step-by-step and task-oriented approach to project management to ensure high attendance.

The first step is for Drive Research to schedule a kickoff with the client. An agenda is typically sent prior to the meeting which will highlight expectations, process, timeline, and next steps. This will ensure the discussion flows as planned.

The first step of recruiting a focus group panel is to develop a general population panel of initial participants who are interested in future focus groups. This will create a base of users to recruit from to lower costs in the future. The targeted geography is discussed from which to draw from.

Drive Research consults with the clients on the questions for this live ongoing registration screener for the panel. The registrations typically include 12 to 15 questions and cover key demographics (gender, age, family status, income, education, etc.) in addition to collecting personal contact information. This base is expected to continually grow over time giving the client access to a greater depth and breadth of focus group participants.

Drive Research will first utilize the qualified individuals from the panel for new focus group projects. If needed, the team will place targeted paid advertisements on social media to target specific audiences for each new unique project.

After a pool of interested participants for each focus group is collected, the client team will review the roster before beginning phone call invitations to participate. This allows the client to prioritize specific mixes, demographics, and other criteria. Respondents will then be re-screened to ensure they meet all qualifying criteria.

Each focus group is customized to focus on new objectives for new clients. Therefore recruitment criteria and the make-up of each group may be unique. The focus groups are typically held on Tuesday through Thursday evenings from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. ET.

Once qualified by phone, Drive Research will send each participant a confirmation email with the designated date, time, location, and other key information about the focus group with a request to confirm by replying “yes”. Participants will also receive a reminder call 24 hours before the focus group and a reminder text the morning of the focus group.


Once you have an in-house panel built, you can use the group of participants for a variety of market research needs. This ranges from surveys to in-person focus groups, online focus groups, phone interviews, and other methodologies. Using the panel helps make your market research much more cost effective and timely. Also because the participants are pre-recruited, participation rates are always much higher.

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research firm in Upstate, New York. We work with clients to develop custom panels and use those panels to recruit for market research studies including focus groups.

Questions or need advice? Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 315-303-2040.

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