When is the Best Time to Host a Focus Group?

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Wondering if there is a "right" time to hold a focus group? Our focus group company can help you find the best time to host these sessions!

Market research focus groups typically come with a lot of variables such as:

  • Deciding the number of focus groups to hold
  • Deciding how many participants are needed for each focus group
  • Finding a place to host the focus groups
  • Finding a focus group moderator

Keep on reading to learn about the best time to host a focus group. Or, read our insider's guide to managing a focus group project.


Tip #1: Is there an ideal time of year for participants?

The first step to finding the best time to host a focus group is to see if there is an ideal time of year for participants.

There are a few obvious times during the year to avoid, such as holidays, but also consider avoiding local events that could conflict with people choosing to participate in the focus group.

Additionally, take into consideration the type of person you are reaching out to participate in the focus group.

Are there specific times during the year that make it easier for them to participate in a focus group? The answer is likely yes.

For example...

  • Gathering teachers for a focus group in the fall is going to be more difficult than in the summer.
  • Finding accountants for a focus group in April (tax season) is going to be more difficult than at other times during the year.
  • Talking to landscapers is a bit easier in the winter than in the summer.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Time of year often plays a role in focus groups, depending on the participants you want. Considering this early on in the process is ideal, as you won’t be surprised by certain groups not being able to participate. 


Tip #2: Find the right day of the week for participants

Before deciding when to host a focus group, find out if there is a best day of the week for participants. When you’re looking into how to conduct a focus group, this step is key. 

For general consumers, market research companies suggest choosing a day in the middle of the week such as Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

Why? From our experience, a market research focus group hosted on a Monday or Friday (near the weekend) often has higher drop-outs and no-shows.

This is because most people go back to work on Mondays and are a bit overwhelmed to start the week.

On Fridays, the weekend is drawing near and it's much easier to put off those obligations going into the weekend.

However, it is always important to keep your target audience in mind. There will always be an exception to every rule.

For instance, if you're reaching out to those who work in the restaurant business, perhaps Monday is the best for these individuals to participate.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Always consider your participants when scheduling a focus group. This will allow you to choose the best days for your target audience. 

Recommended Reading: B2C and B2B Market Research: What's the Difference?


Tip #3: Find the right time of day for participants

After you have found the right time of year and day of the week for a focus group, the next step is to select the right time of day.

Factors like working hours and family needs are the primary considerations when selecting the right time of day for your focus group questions

For general consumers, focus group companies like Drive Research, suggest choosing a time that is 5:30 p.m. or later (after traditional working hours).

Furthermore, try to end your groups before 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. at the latest.

We have moderated some sessions that stretched to 10:00 p.m. and let's just say, we had to bring in some extra coffee for those participants.

Typically these are ideal times for focus groups, however, depending on the audience these times may need to be adjusted to meet their needs.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Just like you scope out the right time of day and year to host a focus group, you should pick an ideal time. Again, this is to zero in on your target audience. When you get the right time in place, you’ll have a higher chance of receiving quality feedback. 


Tip #4: Make participating worth their time

The trick to finding the best time to host a focus group interview is to ensure participating is worth the time.

Most focus groups offer participants rewards such as cash as a thank you for their time.

If for some reason, the time of year, day, or time of day for the focus group is not ideal for participants you'll likely need to increase the incentive to encourage participation.

In fact, higher rewards can equal lower market research costs.

For example, if you are conducting in-person small groups with physicians during the day many will simply calculate their hourly rate for seeing patients versus what you are paying them for 90 minutes of their time.

If what you offer is not equal to or more than what they can make at their office, they will likely bow out.

Providing rewards for your market research focus group participants is a good (and strategic) move. 

Simply showing the participants that you care about their time can speak volumes about your business. Additionally, it’s another way to create loyal participants! 

However, not all rewards are the same. 

Consider these factors before choosing your reward: 

  • Research length
  • Research type
  • Audience 
  • Industry

You’ll also want to think about the type of gift you want to give away. Cash? Gift cards?

Here’s a small list of ideas: 

  • Tickets for raffle or experience gifts
  • Good ol’ cash
  • Earning points for reward
  • Sweepstakes gift card 

With research like focus groups, mystery shopping, or in-home usage tests, cash is a typical reward. 

Keep in mind some participants can accept rewards, but some are not able to. This is sometimes the case if you’re working with those in the B2B field. 

In this case, giving back to the community is a great way to draw in participants. 

Wondering how much you should offer as a thank you for participating in a focus group? Learn more about market research incentives.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Incentives can make a world of difference in your focus group discussion. In fact, they can sometimes be the tipping point when it comes to participants following through with the study. 


Host Online or In-Person Focus Groups with Drive Research

Drive Research is a full-service market research company available to help your team execute a streamlined focus group. Whether it be located at our focus group facility in Syracuse, NY, or online, we provide a full array of services such as qualitative recruitment, question design, moderating, and reporting.

Let's talk! Contact our team through a preferred method below.

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

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.


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