You may not like this answer, but it truly depends. Focus groups can be customized to cater to any budget as a form of qualitative research. So if you're not happy with my answer for "how much does a focus group cost?" here's our take: As a general rule the average cost of a standard focus group project (2 groups using an independent marketing research consultant to manage the project) can range from $4,000 to $12,000. The total cost of a focus group can be decreased or increased by asking yourself the following questions:
How many focus group attendees do you want?
Recruiting for, seating, and rewarding 4 participants in your focus group is less expensive than recruiting, seating, and rewarding 12. Standard sizes of groups can range from as little as 4 (mini-groups) to 12 (large groups.) Smaller groups allow you to have more 1-on-1 time talking to each participant. Keep this mind. Groups of 12 or more can turn into organized chaos without a good moderator.
How many focus groups do you want?
2 focus groups are cheaper than 4. 4 focus groups are cheaper than 6. As a general rule of thumb you never want to hold just one focus group with one set of people. Because focus group research is qualitative, it is susceptible to group bias and influence. It would be like predicting the presidential election by asking 8 people in your local town. Too much risk.
How long do the focus groups need to be?
Focus groups should not last less than 60 to 90 minutes. Why? Because it takes about 15 to 30 minutes for participants to warm-up and feel comfortable in voicing their opinions to the moderator and other strangers. You don't want to end the groups just when momentum is building. Obviously, holding a 90 minute focus group is more cost-efficient than a 2 hour group. It will save on moderator time, report writing time (less feedback), and it will give you the flexibility to pay participants less as a thank you.
How much can you afford for rewards or honorariums?
This is straight-forward. $75 to $150 payouts used to be the standard for B2C focus groups but this has changed over the years. B2B focus groups with industry professionals can exceed amounts of $500+ for 90 minutes of their time. Most B2B rewards start at $100.
Can you hold the groups locally or do you want several markets?
Holding the focus groups in your local market can cut down on travel costs and possibly make recruiting easier. Although geographies may differ among your customers, will behavior differ as well? Or differ enough to warrant multiple geographies to test? Think about this before deciding to run groups on each coast. Unless you'd like a bacation (business vacation.) If you have to recruit for groups out-of-market, Facebook paid advertisements with a link to an online survey screener has proved extremely successful for my recruitment projects in the past. Use these as a cost-effective way to generate interest and then follow-up with qualified participants by phone to verify attendance.
Also consider hosting the groups in key test markets, such as Syracuse, NY.
Can you recruit your own customers or do you need non-customers?
This alludes to difficulty in recruiting. If you have simple screening criteria, it will be easier to get 12 participants to sign-up. But if you are looking for a mix of customers and non-customers it will prove more difficult to recruit those who may have no prior relationship or awareness of your company. This will result in more hours and resources to fill the seats.
Can you hold the focus groups at a free location or is a facility needed?
Depending on local availability and rules you may be able to rent out a community library or volunteer fire hall to host the informal focus groups if it's B2C. If the focus groups are a more professional audience you may want to rent a conference room or go directly to an approved focus group facility in your area with a one-way mirror to allow for client observation. In some cases where confidentiality and sponsorship isn't important, you may be able to simply host the focus groups on-site at your office. How's that for cutting down travel costs?
Contact Drive Research
Drive Research is a focus group firm in Upstate, NY serving clients across New York State and across the country. As a full-service market research company we can consult with you to manage all aspects of a focus group project from kickoff, design, recruitment, booking of facilities, moderating, recording, and reporting.
Questions about your next focus group project?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 315-303-2040.