Research Insights 3.2 Online Focus Group

Marketing Research and Customer Insight

Source: Steward, D.W., and Shamdasani, P. (2017). Online focus group. Journal of Advertising, 46(1), 48–60.

Abstract: The rise of Web 2.0, the advent of greater bandwidth, and new technology platforms have made it possible to extend the range of focus-group research to the online environment. This provides advertising researchers, advertising agencies, and advertisers with opportunities to reach consumers who were heretofore difficult to reach, to create groups with new and different compositions, and to use online collaborative tools not readily available in face-to-face groups. This article reviews online focus-group research, identifies several types of online groups, and contrasts the uses and results of online focus groups with the uses and results of face-to-face focus groups. The article concludes that online and face-to-face venues for focus-group research are complementary, with online focus-group research opening new opportunities for gathering data to inform advertising research, theory, and decision making. The article also suggests that differences between online focus-group research and face-to-face focus-group research, with respect to group interaction and the ability to obtain information, are being eroded as technology provides greater opportunities to create social presence in an online environment.

Insight: Focus groups are the most common qualitative data collection method in marketing research practice. Typically, focus groups are conducted in person, but the authors of this article discuss different types of online focus group (asynchronous, synchronous, and virtual worlds) and their pros and cons. The authors conclude that online focus-group research and face-to-face focus-group research are complementary.