The focus group
We have now learned that the focus group is a market research technique that is applied when the research to be carried out is qualitative. This does not require large numbers of participants, there are neither questionnaires with closed answers nor statistical processing of the answers. Instead, these are conversations with groups of 8-10 people lasting 90-120 minutes in which the moderator, following a guideline, invites the participants to express their opinions sincerely. The goal is to understand the reasons that drive the consumer’s choices.
Testpoint carried out 5 focus groups, 3 in Milan and 2 in Rome, with 7 respondents each, the maximum allowed during the Covid period. Each focus group lasted about 120 minutes.
In this particular case, the participants were all regular consumers of snacks of various kind. The target were fairly young men and women as the tested product is designed for a target audience of young people, all regular consumers of snacks.
During the focus group, the moderator invited them to taste, in an established order, three different prototypes of a new protein bar. After each tasting, the moderator began to investigate the characteristics of the prototype (taste, sweetness, texture, etc.) and how they were perceived by the participants, to then arrive at a comparison between the three prototypes.
How the focus group was carried out
Let’s ask one of the participants to tell us about their experience. This is Marcella, 40, from Milan:
“I’m a pretty sporty person and I’m careful about what I eat. I am convinced that, in addition to exercise, it is very important to have a correct diet to keep body weight under control. This is why I am used to having a small snack in the middle of the morning and in the afternoon, making sure it is light and nutritious. If I can’t eat fruit or yogurt, I eat diet bars. For this reason, I enthusiastically accepted Testpoint invitation to participate in this market research with product tasting.
On the set day, I went to the place that was indicated to me and entered a large, welcoming and bright room, where six other people were seated around a table, in addition to the moderator who led the discussion. After introducing ourselves, we started talking about our eating habits and in particular about the break-hungry snacks. Each of us has described their habits and indicated their preferences.
During the discussion, three versions of the same snack were served on white plates: they were very tasty protein bars that differed from each other in the taste of the filling and some characteristics such as texture, sweetness etc…
Even through nice games, comparisons, associations of ideas, we have indicated our preferences and each of us has come to define their ideal snack.
I must say that two hours have practically flown by, there is no time to get tired or bored, so much the discussion can be engaging.”