Options. You are never short of them in market research. Quantitative or qualitative? Online surveys or intercept surveys? Phone surveys or mail surveys? Focus groups or executive interviews? Mystery shopping or shop-alongs? 400 responses or 1,000 responses? 15 questions or 30 questions? Topline report or full report? The list goes on and on.
There is not necessarily always one right choice in market research. It is about collecting information, seeking guidance, and choosing the best path which offers the greatest chance of answering your challenging business questions. Each choice, each methodology, each location offers pros and cons. It is about weighing those pros and cons and making the choice which is most advantageous to your brand.
If you are considering qualitative market research and focus groups, one of the first questions you will be asking is “what cities should I conduct focus groups in?” Much like choices in methodologies and the number of responses, the options are endless.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you make this determination on the best city to host your focus groups for your market research needs.
Is your product or service local or national?
If you are a business who sells its products and services to a local or regional market, you have your answer. A bank located in Upstate New York would not want to host focus groups in California and Florida (unless the team renders the market research meaningless and wants a break from the snow).
Likewise, if you are a business who sells its products and services nationally, the dishwasher detergent brand would not opt to host 6 focus groups in 3 Upstate New York cities like Syracuse, Albany, and Buffalo. The brand would want those groups more spaced out using a national qualitative market research firm.
What demographic or target audience are you trying to reach?
This can impact which cities are the best fit for your focus groups. If you are looking for minorities or a variety of ethnicities for your market research, it would be unwise to host a focus group in a rural area of the Midwest.
If you are looking for a representation of lower income households, it would be unwise to host a focus group in New York City or San Francisco. Those markets have higher average household incomes and home prices. If you are looking to target homeowners, try to avoid cities where families are more likely to rent than buy.
Finally, if you are looking to find a location that mirrors the demographics of America, consider an Upstate New York market like Syracuse. The age, incomes, and general population demographics closely mimic the U.S. as a whole. Markets like Syracuse have long been excellent test cities for your focus groups.
Does your budget allow for travel?
A simple question but it can have a large impact on your choice of a city for focus groups. On paper, it might make the most sense to host groups in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York City but consider the logistics.
You’ll likely need to space the groups out over 1 to 2 weeks to account for travel time. Depending on your team size and the qualitative research team size, this could be costly for airfare, hotel rooms, food stipends, etc.
If the travel budget is a concern, consider hosting the groups closer to you.
Do you want to host your research in a focus group facility?
We have long discussed the advantages of hosting your qualitative research at a focus group facility. These focus groups facilities offer a client viewing room, participant waiting room, audio recording, video recording capabilities, live streaming, large whiteboards, large televisions to display visuals, parking on-site, and so much more.
Although you may be looking to go a less expensive route, the additional cost of a focus group facility is well worth the fees. If you are okay with hosting at a non-facility, here are some options to consider.
Here is a handy list of focus group facilities broken down by state and city-area.
Once you answer these questions above, it will give your brand some insight into whether the groups should be hosted elsewhere or close to your headquarters. You will also want to make a decision as to whether a focus group facility is a right fit for you or if you are okay running a makeshift focus group at a hotel conference center or community room.
Scheduling a quick call with a focus group facility team member can help you answer some of these key questions. Our team receives calls on a daily basis with clients and brands seeking advice on market research. We are here to help.
Drive Research is located in Syracuse, NY but works with brands across the U.S. on both quantitative and qualitative market research.
Interested in hosting your focus groups in Syracuse or looking for advice on what cities you should conduct your focus groups in? Contact us below.