6 Different Types of Focus Groups
While there are many different topics that focus groups can cover, there are also many different types of focus groups that are each designed to help the companies paying for the studies to better understand a product, service, or message/argument.
Which type of focus group you choose depends on what you’re comfortable with and how much money you want to make. Some focus groups pay much more than others, and some require you to be a lot more involved than others.
It’s up to you! Once you’ve learned about the different types of focus groups, you’ll be better able to choose the right focus group for your needs.
Here are 6 different types of focus groups that you’ll commonly come across.
1. Focus Groups
This is your traditional focus group that most people are familiar with from TV and movies.
In a focus group, you’ll participate with a small group of people (the ideal size is 8–10 participants, though some will have only 4–5 participants) and one or two moderators. This can be done in person or online.
Because there are several different types of focus groups, how many moderators you get and how the moderators act depends on the goal(s) of the study.
For example, there’s what’s called a “dueling moderator” focus group, which is where two moderators basically face off against each other by supporting alternate viewpoints. This can get people talking and exploring ideas they might not otherwise think about.
Another type of focus group is the two-way focus group, where one group watches the other group and their moderator and then gets asked their own questions from their own moderator.
A shop-along is just what it sounds like — you go shopping, and the interviewer goes with you.
While this might be a little anxiety-inducing, the interviewer will do their best to help you relax and just go about your shopping as you normally would.
Usually, a shop-along is designed to last 30 minutes or more so that the interviewer can watch how you shop and ask lots of questions. They might want to know why you chose a particular item or what made you choose one item over another.
What makes shop-alongs so great for interviewers is that they get to see your psychology at work. They get all kinds of insights into the mind of the shopper (you) that they just wouldn’t get from a survey.
For you, the big benefit is that all you have to do is shop! The interviewer will do their best to make the experience relaxing and normal-feeling for you, and remember, you get paid to do something you’d be doing anyway, so it’s definitely worth the time.
Ethnographies are very similar to shop-alongs in that you have an interviewer with you while you do something you would normally do anyway. However, there are many different types of ethnographies where interviewers might watch you do any of a variety of tasks.
You can think of ethnographies as a larger umbrella term that includes shop-alongs. For example, your interviewer might visit you at home and watch you try to put together a piece of furniture that you just bought, or they might go with you to work and watch how you perform your job.
4. One-on-One Interviews (Also Called In-Depth Interviews (IDIs))
One-on-one interviews, which are also called in-depth interviews, are exactly what they sound like — you sit down with an interviewer and dive deep into a particular subject.
Like other types of focus groups, IDIs last for a while — sometimes up to 90 minutes, or even longer — but they can also be as short as 20–30 minutes. This is usually a lot longer than many surveys, which only last a few minutes in many cases.
The goal of a one-on-one interview is to dig deep into your thoughts and experiences. Interviewers want to be able to find out not just what you think but why you think it. The interviewer might want to explore a topic a lot more than a simple survey would.
Basically, you’ll get a lot of follow-up questions to your answers to initial questions.
And because they’re longer, you usually get paid a lot more!
Dyads and triads are where moderators put together very small groups (2 people or 3 people) to ask them questions just like they would in all the different types of focus groups listed above.
In either a dyad or a triad, you might participate with someone you know (like your significant other), or you might participate with someone you don’t know. You might even be deliberately paired with someone who holds a very different viewpoint about the topic than you do.
For example, a republican and a democrat might be included in a dyad — which would be called a conflict pair — to see how they react to a particular political message.
Or it might just be a battle between fans of Coke and Pepsi — which could be even more contentious!
6. A Different Type of Focus Group — In-Home Interviews
Finally, there’s a type of focus group called an in-home interview, which is where (you guessed it) the interviewer comes to your home to talk about a product or service. Usually, their goal is to find out how you use the product/service in your day-to-day life.
They will usually want you to perform some sort of task. For example, they might want you to cook something using one of their products. They’ll ask questions while you cook to figure out how they can improve the product.
Or they might have you use your brand new TV to see if you struggle with the instructions or with using the remote.
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