I’ve just finished conducting four in-person focus groups. Yes, you are reading correctly – IN PERSON! It was a wonderful treat to moderate these groups, as it’s been over a year since I conducted in-person research.
Those who know me know I love moderating focus groups, especially in-person groups. But during this past year, we have only been conducting focus groups online – both synchronous (webcam) and asynchronous (discussion board). Both are highly valuable methodologies, but not nearly as fun.
My biggest takeaway was that the focus group participants were as happy to be there as I was. Some shared they were thrilled to get out of their homes. Even the prospect of wearing a mask for a couple of hours did not deter them. They admitted they had questions about protocols being used to keep the facility clean, but were happy with the practices being undertaken by the focus group facility staff.
Not surprisingly, things at focus group facilities have changed:
- Everyone wears masks
- Each person is seated 6 feet apart (depending on the facility size this may mean smaller groups)
- Hand sanitizer is everywhere
- All food/drink is individually packaged
- Participants have to be reminded to speak up so they can be heard
Recruit has changed:
- Recruit is a bit tougher as about 25% of those contacted are not interested in participating in in-person research
- Participants have lots of questions regarding the protocols in place to keep everyone healthy
But the benefits of conducting in-person focus groups have not changed. We are still taking advantage of:
- Personal interactions and opinions (which add value to the discussion and influencing group think)
- Observing non-verbal reactions (you’d be surprised what you can see even with masks)
- Providing participants the opportunity to touch and feel products
Although the pandemic has increased the use of online research, in-person research is not dead. As more and more people are vaccinated, the willingness of clients to hold in-person research will increase. I for one am thrilled to say that in-person research is back. I’ve missed it!
If you are thinking about in-person research, give me a call (206-232-9400). We can discuss the precautions we are taking to keep everyone safe to make this invaluable research method possible.