In a focus group session, a group of eight to twelve people are guided by a moderator in the discussion of a topic which is of interest to the company that is sponsoring the session. Participants answer questions posed by the moderator and also interact with each other. Usually a script is prepared beforehand which maps out the course the discussion should take.
The moderator is key to the success of a focus group. The moderator makes sure that the discussion stays on track, that each participant makes a contribution, and that all the sponsoring company's questions are answered.
Focus group moderating is more difficult than you might at first imagine. In order to ensure a successful session you'll want to select a moderator who is experienced and professionally trained. The staff moderator at Power Marketing Research was trained by A.C. Neilsen Burke and has over ten years of experience in leading focus group sessions on a variety of topics.
Focus groups can be held in almost any setting. Hotels and conference rooms are often used to conduct focus group sessions. Alternatively, focus groups can be conducted in a specialized focus group facility where the client sits behind a one-way mirror to observe the session. Focus groups are also sometimes videotaped and audiotaped to record the session for future review.
Focus group sessions typically last about two hours.