A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their attitude towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. Or sometimes this can be done online.

Types of focus groups

Variants of focus groups include:

* Two-way focus group – one focus group watches another focus group and discusses the observed interactions and conclusion

* Dual moderator focus group – one moderator ensures the session progresses smoothly, while another ensures that all the topics are covered

* Dueling moderator focus group – two moderators deliberately take opposite sides on the issue under discussion

* Respondent moderator focus group – one or more of the respondents are asked to act as the moderator temporarily

* Client participant focus groups – one or more client representatives participate in the discussion, either covertly or overtly

* Mini focus groups – groups are composed of four or five members rather than 8 to 12

* Teleconference focus groups – telephone network is used

* Online focus groups – computers connected via the internet are used

Traditional focus groups can provide accurate information, and are less expensive than other forms of traditional marketing research. There can be significant costs however : if a product is to be marketed on a nationwide basis, it would be critical to gather respondents from various locales throughout the country since attitudes about a new product may vary due to geographical considerations. This would require a considerable expenditure in travel and lodging expenses. Additionally, the site of a traditional focus group may or may not be in a locale convenient to a specific client, so client representatives may have to incur travel and lodging expenses as well.

The use of focus groups has steadily evolved over time and is becoming increasingly widespread.