General Research Services

Focus Groups

Focus groups are one of FM3's particular specialties, and the firm conducts as many as 150 focus groups each year.

As a technique in public opinion research, focus groups do not measure directly the frequency by which opinions and attitudes may exist within a particular universe of people. Only a random sample survey can provide that type of statistically reliable data about the number of persons holding an opinion. However, focus groups can guide and "focus" thinking about the subjects under discussion.

Focus groups provide information and guidance about a particular issue through the use of group dynamics. A relatively small group of interested people can, by talking among themselves and with a group moderator, produce more valuable thoughts and insights than if each participant were interviewed separately, filled out a questionnaire or testified in a hearing before a governmental authority. Focus groups dig deeply into mind-sets, customary action or belief and encourage responses to new ideas or concepts.

In designing focus group research, FM3 focuses on the specific local issues, problems and opportunities that make each research project of this type unique. Through meetings and teleconferences, FM3 works closely with the client to make sure all pertinent issues are included in the focus group discussion guides. The firm also works closely with the client in developing the recruitment criteria to be certain that focus group participants represent characteristics of the target group whose opinions are of interest.

Clients are welcomed to watch all FM3 focus groups live on-site, through two-way mirrors or closed-circuit television monitors. All FM3 focus groups are also video- and audio-taped, and verbatim transcripts are provided to the client in electronic and hard copy form shortly after the completion of the groups. Results of the focus groups are presented both through in-person briefings and written reports shortly after the focus group project concludes. Reports typically include an executive summary; a description of methodology; and a summary of results, findings and conclusions. In addition, an immediate "de-briefing" for client observers on-site usually follows each focus group session.