Feedback from focus groups plays an important role in determining how your company meets the needs and expectations of customers. Researching issues and writing questions for your focus group session is only the first part of the process. Completion of a comprehensive report based on the results of the session will help your managers develop new strategies and sales techniques to better meet the needs of your customers. Before you begin writing your report, sort and organize the information you obtain to avoid accidentally omitting key facts or details.
1. Begin the report with a cover page. Type the title of the report on the first line. Add the date and name of the employees who conducted the focus group on subsequent lines.
2. Follow the cover page with the executive summary. The executive summary explains what you hoped to accomplish with the focus group. Your executive summary might explain that the focus group was assembled to determine whether customers like your company’s new coffee flavors.
3. Include a background page. The background page will discuss when the new coffee flavors were introduced, how they were selected, what markets or stores received the new flavors and how the new products were priced. It might also mention any problems with the roll-out of the new flavors that led you to convene the focus group, such as lackluster sales of the new products.
4. Describe the methodology you used to obtain the information. Explain how many focus groups you held, how many people participated, how they were recruited, and the date and location of meetings. Mention the ways that you obtained the input, such as audio or video recording or note taking. List the questions that the facilitators asked the participants.
5. Include a results page. List and summarize the information obtained from the focus groups. Highlight any particularly relevant or insightful comments from group members.
6. Finish the report with a conclusion. Explain what you learned from the focus group. List recommendations that describe how you can use this information to improve your marketing techniques and increase sales.
- Include your impressions of the focus group in the conclusion section. Northern Illinois University suggests describing whether participants were active and engaged and if the process interested them.
- Resist the urge to include every detail you discover in the report. If your report is overly long, readers may miss key information. If you feel it would be helpful for management to read quotes and suggestions from participants, include this information as an addendum.
- The University of Arizona cautions against relying on audio recording as a sole method of recording participants’ responses. If the recorder fails, you won’t be able to access specific comments or points when you write your report. Use two methods to record the session to ensure that you’re covered if one method fails.
About the Author
Working at a humane society allowed Jill Leviticus to combine her business management experience with her love of animals. Leviticus has a journalism degree from Lock Haven University, has written for Nonprofit Management Report, Volunteer Management Report and Healthy Pet, and has worked in the healthcare field.
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Among the most powerful research tools in contemporary academia are the Focus Group and Interview, enabling a rich source of detailed qualitative data to be mined. Arguably, the depth of information afforded by Focus Groups and Interviews is unparalleled within the humanities. This is because the methods are uniquely open-ended and highly dynamic: allowing very precise and thorough responses as well as immediate interaction (follow up questions, prompts for elaboration, et cetera) from the researcher. In a Focus Group, a moderator (usually the researcher) oversees a forum comprised usually of five to ten participants who engage in a discussion on a specific research topic. While the moderator catalyses and guides the discussion, keeping conversation focused and curbing digression, the group is effectively permitted to engage freely with the topic at hand and with each other. Indeed, the interactive and social element is a principal advantage of the process. Group dynamics, one may argue, yield more fruitful results than individual-focused research because the social context is more stimulating. Moreover, dividing responsibility across a group relieves pressure on any one individual, thereby creating an easier atmosphere, conducive to candid conversation. This is important seeing as the overall intent of Focus Group research is to encourage respondents to say whatever comes to mind: in effect, replicating conditions of spontaneous discourse, where ideas, opinions and attitudes emerge in natural course. Focus Groups consequently also allow for more nuanced, non-orthodox responses to be recorded, non-verbal, gestural contributions for example; expanding the empirical range of interpretable data collected, and so facilitating more complex and informed analyses.
Interviews also make for a diverse and fruitful source of first-hand evidence. Though lacking the catalytic dimensions of the group dynamic, Interview scenarios offer highly personal open-ended responses, extending perhaps to the greatest degree of analytical depth that may be focused on a single subject. That is, all the subjective richness of discursive qualitative research – where there is a dialectical or conversational element – is now honed on a single individual, meaning the data collected will be deeper than it is broad. What lacks in lieu of the group dynamic is therefore gained in scope for degrees of detail. Interviews by necessity are, then, more structured than Focus Groups, requiring the interviewer to prepare questions both germane to topic and productive to discussion, and to ensure conversation progresses along beneficial lines. Interviews and Focus Groups alike are very popular research tools, having for this reason spawned a literature of their own, detailing the numerous methods and approaches available. These include conventions for moderation, interview guidelines, discussion prompts, suggested questions, and more: reviewing such literature is highly advisable. Making sure your Focus Group or Interview is properly calibrated for the intended research aim is important. Here is where professional writing services can be a great help. We can assist in the research, planning, drafting, and composition of guidelines and questions, ensuring that the researcher is prepared on every front. With proper forethought and planning, you will be able to concentrate on getting the best results from your Focus Group or Interview.
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