Should You Use a Third-Party For Focus Groups? | The Dangers of DIY Qualitative Research

DIY market research initially seems like a brilliant idea. The possibility of saving time, money, and getting the same, insightful results from a focus group without having to go through a third-party seems like a no-brainer. However, DIY market research very rarely delivers this outcome. 

Our market research company often equates DIY market research to cutting your own hair. A task that seems so simple and easy.

This feeling quickly fades once the process is complete. You realize, there is a BIG reason hairdressers must have their cosmetology license to sell their services. 


When you decide to work with a third-party for focus groups, you won’t have to worry about objectivity.

Throughout the market research process, there are a number of areas bias can be created: 

  • The focus group recruitment process
  • The choice of the facility 
  • The qualifications and skills set of the moderator

Drive Research, a national market research company, specializes in focus groups and qualitative recruiting. We offer everything from focus group recruitment, to skilled moderators, facility rentals, focus group materials, and more. Really, the only thing we can’t provide is a professional hair cut 😉.

The research services we offer our clients offer more and go far beyond what DIY research ever could. 

In this blog post, Drive Research will explore the benefits of choosing to work with a third-party for focus group recruitment, selecting the right facility, choosing a highly-skilled moderator, and more. 

The recruitment process is essential. 

Drive Research uses its own tested and proven approach for qualitative recruitment. To avoid frequent market research participants, we typically take our pre-screener survey to social media, where we’re able to target specific demographics and even interests. This method often increases the quality and frequency of qualified pre-screened potential participants. 

Once we’ve gathered a pool of qualified participants from social media, the best-fit potential participants will receive a phone call from the Drive Research recruitment team.

During the call, the recruiter double-checks the important qualifying criteria and asks a few more follow-up questions to ensure they are a good fit for qualitative research.

The recruiter will be the participant’s main point of contact for confirmation materials, reminder calls, questions, and directions. This process works (we have the show rates to prove it)!

Another important aspect to consider when trying to decide between in-house or working with a third-party for qualitative recruitment is objectivity. When an organization conducts its own qualitative recruitment in-house, bias is created before the real research has even begun. 

Drive Research offers an objective approach for focus group recruitment. When we call a potential participant, they receive a phone call from Drive Research, not your organization, which keeps the sponsor and the major details of the focus group blinded, which is essential for preventing bias.

The facility affects the quality of the research.

Your company’s conference room might seem like the perfect location to have a focus group. While this may initially seem less expensive and more convenient, it’s important that qualitative research is conducted in a neutral space, such as a focus group facility

When a participant walks into your office to attend a focus group and sees your company’s logo plastered on the wall, bias is instantly created, which taints any feedback you’ll collect during the market research. 

For your next focus group, consider a facility rental. Renting a space that’s designed for qualitative research complete with a waiting area, video and audio recording equipment, a one-way mirror, and an observation room with tiered seating, will allow you to pay more attention to what is actually important; the research.

Wondering what you should look for in a focus group facility? We've got you covered.

It’s important to work with a trained moderator who will ask the right questions. 

How difficult can asking a small group of focus group participants some questions be, anyway? Probably more so than you think. Focus group moderators are highly skilled and trained in what they do. 

Chances are, you spend a lot of time at your job and know more about a given topic than your average customer. Working with a professional moderator is key to remaining unbiased, as they’ll be able to navigate the focus group discussion and probe honest feedback.

A skilled moderator won’t let their own opinions shine through. Observer dependency can happen when the moderator’s own behavior, such as their feedback and attitude, influences the focus group participants. Working with a third-party is essential to avoid this.  

Focus group moderators also know how to avoid other biases in these group discussions such as groupthink, social desirability bias, and friendliness bias. 

If you’re worried about questions arising from the observation room, moderators typically check back in with their clients throughout the focus groups, ensuring no question is left unanswered at the end of the discussion. 

Working with a third party vs. DIY market research

There are some situations where in-house market research is acceptable. For example, if there is expertise within your organization and objectivity isn’t a concern, in-house or DIY market research may be a good fit for your company. 

However, this is hardly ever the case with focus groups, as sponsor bias taints feedback. Through all stages of focus group research, whether it be recruitment, the facility rental, or selecting a moderator, working with a third-party who specializes in focus groups is essential to the success and objectivity of the research. 

Contact Our Focus Group Company

Drive Research is a market research company located in Upstate, NY. Thinking about renting our focus group facility for your qualitative market research needs? Or, need assistance on recruiting participants for a focus group?


Reach out through any of the four ways below.


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


Focus Groups