What Are Focus Groups and How Can They Be Analysed?

Team Training 11 minute read

15 Jun 2021 11 minute read

Duncan Ritchie Media Team


Jun, 2021

Focus groups are one of the most interesting research tools in the field of marketing. They are designed to uncover opinions that may go unnoticed by other types of investigation.


Getting good feedback from the participants is essential for the success of this type of project and, in this article, we’ll look at methods for achieving exactly that.


What Exactly Is a Focus Group? 

focus group codimg video analysis


Focus groups are principally used in market research and political discourse in order to gage public opinion on products, marketing campaigns or political topics. They generally take the form of a group conversation on the topic at hand and can be either completely free flowing or guided by a moderator.


Participants will be carefully chosen in order to represent a specific demographic or a range of demographics. The number of participants will depend on the objective of the focus group but between 5 and 10 people is the accepted rule of thumb. A smaller number will not be representative enough whilst a larger group may be difficult to control.


There is no firm duration for a focus group, but again, it’s a general rule that meetings should last no more than 60 minutes at a time. Any longer and participants may begin to lose their focus and attention and full involvement is paramount to the success of a focus group.



Why Use Focus Groups? 

focus groups for market research


The main objective of a focus group is to extract opinions from a representative audience. In marketing, they are commonly used before the launch of a new product to either validate or discard potential projects or ideas, or to simply extract insights which can be used to design campaigns.


There are various ways of conducting a focus group, but the most common consists of having a moderator who controls the event, offering up topics for the participants to feedback on. These topics are debated between the participants, generating opinions and behaviours which enrich the information the marketer already has.



How to Organise a Focus Group

focus group analysis



1. Establish the Objective Beforehand 

The final objective of the focus group must be clear and kept in mind throughout the entire process. If the objective is unclear then, obviously, irrelevant data may be collected and the conclusions of the study will also be unclear.


As an example, a company is planning to launch a new product onto the market. They have four different design prototypes of the product and they want to see which design is accepted by the intended demographic.


The objective of the focus group in this case is clear...to find out the general opinion of each design and decide which prototype should be put into production.  



2. Choose the Participants Wisely 

Selecting the correct group to participate in the study is of the utmost importance...but how are they chosen? In the marketing world, there are as many target audiences as there are products. These could be based on current vs potential customers, age, gender, location, interests...the list goes on.


focus group participants


In addition, careful consideration must be given to the character of the participants. Those who have laconic or overly shy personalities should be ruled out as they may not contribute satisfactorily to the study. Likewise, those with overbearing personalities or those who are easily led by group opinion may skew the results of the focus group.


We recommend reading The Spiral of Silence by German sociologist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, in which she stipulates that members of a group may fear isolation if they go against what they perceive to be the popular opinion. 


Continuing with the example we gave in the previous section, the company wants to launch the product aimed, primarily, at existing customers. To gage their opinion, the marketing team has assembled a group of three men and two women, middle-aged and regular consumers of the brand. These people were selected after a brief telephone screening in which their personalities were discovered to be within the accepted parameters set for the study.



3. Planning Discussion Topics and Observation Criteria

As we have already stated, having a plan is absolutely essential to the success of the project. What topics will be given for discussion to ensure dynamism? What type of answers do we anticipate and how can we evaluate them?


The topics of discussion must be prepared carefully. They must be easy to understand in order to avoid misunderstandings. If the topics are misinterpreted by the participants, the dynamic of the group may be ruined and final conclusions wrong. Care must also be taken to not make the questions too leading, which may also lead to incorrect conclusions.


Returning to our example, the company will focus on the four products as the central axis for the study and a thematic block for each product. Through the discussion topics, they will try to get participants to offer an assessment on the design of each product through both through their spoken opinions and body language.


4. Film the Group, Tag the Highlights



Up until now, everything we have spoken about has been preparatory. We could actually continue talking about this stage, choosing a suitable environment, defining the role of the moderator, etc., but instead let us switch our focus to the actual group stage


Taking extensive notes is always a good idea in a study such as this, but we recommend that you go one stage further and film the entire conversation.


If you do plan to do this, it is important to inform the participants before the conversation begins. Many people have reservations about being filmed and they may well clam up when a camera is pointed at them, which again would be disastrous for the study. Aside from this, there may be legal repercussions. Consult the legal team at your company and make sure that authorisation forms, etc. are signed, especially if the images will be shared at a later stage.


With all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed and the filming set up ready to record, this is where Codimg comes into play in our example from earlier. 


With Codimg View at hand on an iPhone or iPad, the moderator has a template of buttons which correspond to different views that may crop up during the conversation. A button for each participant, one for each of the four designs they are being presented with and buttons for each behaviour criteria and opinion that has been anticipated.


codimg button template for focus groups


For example, if “Participant 1” talks about “Product 3” and “Quotes” that he “Dislikes” the product even though his “Non-verbal” conveys that his views are “Positive”. The moderator can click these buttons, tagging the moments in the video where they happen and creating a database of relevant video clips.


The moderator will repeat this process throughout the focus group and, as well as a series of video clips, the combination of buttons will be recorded, collecting information which can be analysed once it has been transferred from the Codimg View app to the main Codimg desktop program.



5. Review, Analyse and Present Conclusions 


So, thanks to Codimg, the marketing team now have all the information they need to analyse the focus group at their fingertips. They can access any moment of the video that has been tagged with just one click. If they want to see all the comments from “Participant 1” about “Product 3”, these video clips can be accessed directly from Codimg’s Data Matrix.


Having the video already organised into clips like this saves the marketing department lots of time and money. The tedious, time consuming task of editing the video has, basically, already been done.


With the clips at their fingertips, they can easily review, analyse and create video presentations for other departments or company directors. 


Review and analysis can be done through Codimg’s Dashboard environment which uses the video tags to produce eye-catching graphs and charts. This data can also be exported to Excel where it can be used in external data visualisation apps such as Tableau or Power BI.


Codimg’s Presentation environment can be used to quickly create video compilations which can then be shared to other members of the company in order to disseminate the conclusions of the study and allow everyone to have input into the final decision. 




Focus groups are an established tool in the arsenal of any marketing department. Although they need to be thoroughly planned out, they can give fantastic insights into the minds of consumers and can aid companies in making correct decisions.


When combined with the analytical power of Codimg, they become even more powerful, allowing the marketer to quickly and intuitively analyse the data provided by the focus groups and get deep insights. Codimg also saves marketing departments time and money, eliminating the need for the slow process of video editing and making it easy to create professional video presentations for other department heads and bosses.


Simply put, Codimg puts the information that matters into the hands of decision makers.


We offer a completely free, no-obligation trial of our software. We can also advise you on the best way to conduct focus groups or any other study which would benefit from video analysis. Contact us today for more information.


We hope this article has been informative to you. Thanks for reading!




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