Online Versus In-Person Focus Groups — Pros and Cons for Participants
Online versus in-person focus groups — what are the differences besides the obvious?
Obviously, one takes place online through software like WebEx or Zoom while the other takes place in a facility that specializes in focus groups, but what else separates them, and what can you expect with each one?
Here are the differences between online versus in-person focus groups.
Online Groups Pay a Little Less While In-Person Groups Pay a Little More
For most people, the main reason they want to do focus groups is that they pay — and sometimes, if you do enough of them, they can even be a nice side hustle.
If pay is what you’re looking for, then you have to keep in mind that, when it comes to online versus in-person focus groups, you’re probably going to get paid a little less for online groups.
There are a number of reasons for this. Researchers don’t get quite as much info out of online groups for a number of reasons.
For example, they don’t get to see your body language, which can be problematic depending on what the topic is. If you’re talking about a product and they don’t get to see you actually handling it, they get fewer data.
So you’re not going to make as much, but you have to balance that with the pluses, like being able to do the focus group from your home and not having to travel.
Another benefit is that online groups are safer. COVID is still a major concern for many people, so being able to participate in a focus from home may make you more likely to do one.
Online focus groups also usually have more time slots available, so if you’re crunched for time or only have certain times during the day/week when you’re available, they can be a better option than an in-person focus group.
Online Focus Groups Are More Comfortable and Sometimes Have Fewer People
Because you get to do online focus groups from home, you’re probably going to be more comfortable for a number of reasons.
Like we mentioned before, you won’t have to worry about being around sick people — COVID or otherwise, and for many people, this is the only way they’re going to feel comfortable doing a focus group.
Another reason online focus groups are more comfortable is that you’re at home! You can essentially wear whatever you want, you can drink your own coffee, you can use your own bathroom, and if you need to take care of something at home during the break, you can.
Online focus groups also tend to have fewer people, though not always. For some people, this is really important because they might feel overwhelmed by a lot of people and not feel as comfortable sharing their opinions.
Researchers want to get as wide a range of opinions as possible, so if you’re more likely to share what you think in an online focus group, that might be a better option than an in-person focus group.
In-Person Groups May Pay You to Travel and Get a Hotel Room
While online focus groups are great for some people and can be a faster way of making money, that doesn’t mean you should ignore in-person focus groups.
One of the big benefits of in-person focus groups is that you get to travel! If you love traveling and seeing new places, or just getting out of town and going to a large nearby city, then in-person focus groups can be a great way to do that — without spending your own money.
That’s right — in some cases, you’ll actually get paid to travel to take part in an in-person focus group! This is because some focus groups require really specific criteria for their participants.
If you fit that criteria, then they might be willing to pay for you to travel to take part in the focus group.
Usually, if you get paid to travel, your hotel room is also going to be covered. Essentially, you get a mini vacation — in addition to getting paid! When it comes to online versus in-person focus groups, if you have the travel bug, then in-person groups might be right for you.
Online Versus In-Person Focus Groups — In-Person Groups Let You Handle Products and Are Just More Fun!
If you’re more outgoing and like to be in larger groups of people, then in-person focus groups are probably for you.
In-person focus groups can be really fun! You often get to handle the products that are being talked about directly. That means you get a first-look at products that are cutting edge and not on the market yet.
If you love learning about new products, then you should definitely consider in-person focus groups. Remember, you’re probably going to get paid more to do them anyway, so you might as well take advantage.
The in-person aspect means you get to interact much more directly with the other participants. Many times in online focus groups, there will be people who feel left out or just don’t participate as much.
The facilitator will try to get them to participate, but that doesn’t always work.
For in-person focus groups, you’re more likely to be around people like you — people who are outgoing and have no problem expressing their feelings and opinions.
This can make for a really cool group dynamic. You might even end up making some friends! In-person focus groups can get really lively at times, and while the facilitator will try to keep things on track, you might just end up having a lot more fun than you expected to.
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