If you've ever conducted a focus group for your business or participated as an attendee, you'll quickly realize and respect the amount of preparation which goes into the process. Moderators and their market research firms are often responsible for recruiting participants, sending confirmation emails or letters, preparing the discussion guide, preparing the participation packet, managing the logistics at the focus group, and handling the report.
Often, the moderator becomes the project manager as part of this process. So, it's easy to see there is a lot of time, effort, and responsibilities which goes into a focus group.
Using a third-party market research can assist with much of this. Some businesses even hire a moderator simply to prepare the guide and moderate the session(s) while their company or the focus group facility manages everything else. However, sometimes even the moderator could use a hand during the live sessions which is why some opt to conduct a dual-moderator focus group.
Moderating a focus group full of participants takes significant time and preparation.
What is a dual-moderator focus group?
A dual-moderator focus group is when 2 moderators guide a focus group. They share responsibilities, areas of discussion, or split the groups up at certain times to manage separate tasks. The 2nd moderator allows each person to chunk up their preparation time and ease the burden of moderating several focus groups (often back-to-back.) Using a dual-moderator or co-moderator structure is a great way to train a new focus group moderator.
But what are the benefits to the end-client when using 2 moderators? Here are some situations where a dual-moderator focus group may be something to consider:
Mini-Groups Within a Group
Sometimes it makes sense to separate two groups within a larger focus group. Let's say one section of the discussion focuses on taste of a food while the other focuses on packaging. It might make sense to separate these two discussions so they can happen simultaneously before flip-flopping the two groups. This also limits bias as each section is rotated (e.g., packaging influencing taste, taste influencing packaging.)
Some focus groups can get technical and specific. In situations where new product development is being discussed, participants often have questions that span beyond the moderator's knowledge. One can actually argue the best focus group moderators "play dumb" so respondents are forced to go into great detail.
New product design groups create another level of knowledge which is needed. This was often the case in manufacturing companies where engineers develop intricate features on new products. Very often it's taken them months if not years to create. Having a co-moderator in the room to help answer these specific questions can add more value and perspective to the discussion.
Good Cop, Bad Cop
This is the most basic and simple reason for having 2 moderators. One moderator focuses on the rules, logistics and timing (e.g., the bad cop.) The other moderator focuses on the topics relevant to the client from the guide (e.g., the good cop.) The benefit of this for the client? The group flows a little more seamlessly from introduction to discussion to conclusion. Here's how the focus group lifecycle works.
Seen here, the 2nd moderator is laying out the ground rules for the focus group.
Would you want a 68-years-old moderating a group of millennials to talk about usage of Snapchat and Pokemon Go? It wouldn't seem right would it? Or having a male moderate a session about women's products? It's not something that would encourage engagement or rapport within the group obviously.
Sometimes a moderator can be very good at moderating but if the participants cannot relate to him or her the feedback will be sub-par. Using a dual-moderator set up provides more flexibility with finding the right mix to build rapport with the group.
Drive Research is a market research firm in Upstate, NY. We offer a number of market research services including online surveys and focus groups. Contact Drive Research at info@DriveResearch.com or call us at 315.303.2040.