A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their attitude towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.
Ernest Dichter originated the idea of having a "group therapy" for products and this process is what became known as a focus group.
In the world of marketing, focus groups are seen as an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products, as well as various topics. In particular, focus groups allow companies wishing to develop, package, name, or test market a new product, to discuss, view, and/or test the new product before it is made available to the public. This can provide invaluable information about the potential market acceptance of the product.
In Social Sciences
In the social sciences and urban planning, focus groups allow interviewers to study people in a more natural setting than a one-to-one interview. In combination with participant observation, they can be used for gaining access to various cultural and social groups, selecting sites to study, sampling of such sites, and raising unexpected issues for exploration. Focus groups have a high apparent validity - since the idea is easy to understand, the results are believable. Also, they are low in cost, one can get results relatively quickly, and they can increase the sample size of a report by talking with several people at once. (Material based on: Marshall and Rossman, Designing Qualitative Research, 3rd Ed. London: Sage Publications, 1999, p. 115)
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1. "The Century of Self" BBC video (2002)
2. Rushkoff, Douglas, Get back in the box : innovation from the inside out, New York : Collins, 2005
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