Why Are Participation Packets Used in Focus Groups?

One of the advantages of using one-on-one in-depth interviews (IDIs) in-person or by phone, is the elimination of any group bias. In group settings, one participant can be influenced by the opinion of another. It's the job of an experienced and qualified moderator to mitigate such bias, but this group dynamic is often assumed in focus group methodologies.

The same group dynamic which influences an individual's opinions is also a main benefit as to why market researchers use focus groups. Back and forth discussions between participants can create fantastic dialogue. Differing opinions can create conversations that are reporting gold in market research. When participants ask each other questions and engage in meaty dialogue, forgetting about the one-way mirror and moderator, it can often generate very real feedback and insights.

What is the reason behind using a participation packet?

Nonetheless, some participants may not be as local as others. As a result, if there are 12 people in a focus group and 11 people feel strongly one way, the final participant may feel pressured to answer with the majority instead of vocalizing his or her true opinions. By asking participants to complete a packet before a discussion it ensures each person will record their unbiased feelings and responses before group influence impacts choices and decisions. Participation packet exercises are often administered right before a new topic is introduced in a focus group. Participation packets also make a good segue into a new section and to turn the page on a discussion.

What's included in a participation packet?

Participation packets can include both closed-ended and open-ended questions. Since participation packets are often used for focus groups which are exploratory, they often provide a market research company with some hard data even if sample sizes are lower. Participation packet responses are often tallied into an excel sheet and tabulated into charts and graphs for the final market research report. They provide some additional context to the anecdotal discussion findings.

Are there any other benefits of using a participation packet?

Another benefit of participation packets is they serve as a nice warm-up for the focus groups. As participants are brought into a focus group room, the written activities occupy their time while they wait for the groups to begin. Drive Research typically uses some easy and conversational questions in the warm-up exercise to get participants comfortable with the setting, their surroundings, and their group.

How long does the participation packet need to be?

Participation packets typically last about 4 or 5 pages maximum. If your focus group is broken down into 4 or 5 main sections, incorporating more written activities could be overkill. Too many written activities essentially ruin the main benefits of qualitative and focus group research which is meant to generate dialogue and discussion. If you are most interested in recording data and measuring responses, focus groups are not the best choice for your methodology.

Drive Research is a market research company offering focus group services in Syracuse, NY. We can design your focus group project from start to finish including recruitment, set up and reporting. Our company also offers focus group moderators in Syracuse and Upstate, NY for your qualitative needs. Contact us at [email protected] or by calling 315-303-2040.

Focus Groups