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What is an online focus group? A case study

It is a traditional methodology of qualitative research carried out with the use of modern technologies, the Internet in particular: a group of 8-10 participants meets virtually on the web to discuss, in real time, a topic or analyze a product/service and share opinions and evaluations with the other members of the group.

In this way, the participants do not have to physically move from their home and therefore they do not necessarily have to be all from the same city or geographic area but, by connecting via PC, they can share images, data and answers with the other participants.

This allows to have groups distributed throughout the Country (or even abroad, if required) simply because the survey is carried out remotely and not in person.

The technical support

As in the traditional focus group carried out in person at a central location, a moderator moderates the discussion from their “own room” by interacting with the participants, while the client can assist remotely and invisibly, in a sort of virtual “backstage”.

The online focus group requires the use of an appropriate technical tool, i.e. a platform that supports the simultaneous connection of 6-8 people (the suitably recruited respondents, the moderator, the client, the simultaneous translator if required) and allows the moderator to talk with everyone, upload and show material, and that eventually allows to transcribe the entire discussion and print the comments that the respondents exchanged. In this way, all the material is immediately available for those who have to analyze it and for the end client.

In addition to the software that works as a chat in which the participants can intervene by typing their responses, there are also platforms that allow the discussion to be developed in audio-video mode: in this case the participants must have a webcam and a microphone available.

How is an online focus group carried out?

Online focus groups can be synchronous if the participants take part in the discussion, lasting 60/90 minutes, all at the same time from their home, or asynchronous if the participants are not required to connect all at the same time but in fairly large time windows, even 24 hours.

This allows participants greater freedom but the discussion is certainly more discontinuous and fragmented.

It might seem that the online focus group represents a distortion compared to the traditional in person one because on the web the thoughts become “posts” and therefore the concepts are necessarily expressed in a very synthetic form, the facial expressions are transformed into emoticons and the pace of the discussion is inevitably tighter, however the very fact that this technique is increasingly used tells us that the online focus group, if properly moderated, is an extremely effective tool in step with the times.

Focus group online ultima modifica: 2015-03-11T14:08:05+01:00 da Carmine De Falco