7 Interactive Focus Group Activities for Better Engagement

Louise Principe
Apr 28, 2022

Focus groups are the key to uncovering your audience’s needs for your brands and products. A properly managed online or in-person focus group leads you deeper into the minds of your target market. Thus, resulting in insights that you can use to improve your business strategy and attract more customers.

The golden rule in moderating is that the more comfortable someone is, the more likely they will be honest and engaged in the discussion. With all the time and money spent on your market research, the last thing you would want to have is a room full of yes men.

Incorporating various focus group activities in your sessions is a great place to start if you wish to get your respondents more involved in the conversation. This article will explore some examples of enjoyable and productive activities that you can do in your next focus group.

But wait, first we have to…

Break the ice. Take some time to ensure that everyone introduces themselves to establish a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. You could expand on this by asking participants to share something interesting about themselves, whether it be their hobbies, likes, or dislikes. This gives you a chance to learn about their personalities and how their behavior matches with your interests. What’s important is that the entire experience feels light, comfortable, and straightforward so that you can start with your activities and open the discussion.

Focus Group Activities

  1. Free Listing

    Free listing is a simple but powerful qualitative strategy to explore specific subject matter. Participants are asked to list down all the items they can think of concerning a given topic.

    Later on, the moderator records the results and shares them with the group to stimulate discussion and explain why they listed those items. This technique can help determine where to concentrate efforts.

    Example: Listing issues that the business needs to improve upon or possible solutions to a specific problem.

  2. Comparison

    Research subjects are offered different options and are asked to enumerate the pros and cons of each. Another way is that instead of the choices being predetermined by the moderator, the participants can also produce them. Afterward, respondents choose the option they believe is the most useful, effective, and so on.

    The conversation starts when the moderator asks why they did or didn’t choose a particular option, helping the researcher identify similarities or differences that might not be immediately obvious. This activity highlights important details and reduces the confusion between related concepts.

    Example: Select which is more appealing among visual displays such as advertisements or logos.

  3. Rating

    This exercise consists of participants indicating their levels of agreement, frequency, or satisfaction towards individual items. In some cases, the rating process itself can be a source of conversation amongst respondents. The moderator can also calculate a score for each item and discuss the results with the group.

    The purpose of this activity is not to achieve statistical precision but to get the participants to think and evaluate different opinions about certain subject items.

    Example: How satisfied are you with our product? (1. Very Satisfied, 2. Satisfied, 3. Neutral, 4. Dissatisfied, 5. Very Dissatisfied).

  4. Labeling

    Labeling is used to answer the question: “What words come to your mind when you think about…?” In focus groups, a label is a word or description stated by participants that correspond to the topic under discussion.

    In this activity, participants are given a word or question in which they have to respond with the first thing that occurs to them. Participants may then discuss their responses after everyone has given their answers. Another creative way to generate labels might be to ask respondents to imagine themselves as authors and to draw or define their ideal book cover and title. This activity is suitable for uncovering people’s first impressions of products or businesses.

    Example: What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of corn chips? (Tasty, dry, sweet, cheap, etc.)

  5. Pile Sorting

    Pile sorting aims to study relations among items within a domain. It’s useful for discovering your participants’ perceptions of the similarities and differences among specific topics.

    This activity is done by having participants divide a set of items into groups. Subgroups can also be formed from these groups, depending on the type of pile sorting done. Later on, participants are given a chance to explain their criteria for sorting the items and are asked to name each group.

    Example: Using the pile sort method to identify groups of effective marketing strategies among young smartphone users.

  6. Ranking

    In this activity, focus group participants are asked to put a list of items in order according to a specified dimension. This exercise is typically used when a researcher is interested in establishing priority among elements or identifying which items are most and least preferred by your target audience.

    Example: Participants can arrange a collection of advertisements in order of effectiveness, with no.1 as the ‘most effective’ to no. 5 as the ‘least effective.’

  7. Picture Sorting

    The moderator usually begins this activity by offering respondents a selection of pictures. Note that the images should be available to remote and in-facility participants if conducting a hybrid focus group. Respondents are then asked to sort through them and select those that match a given characteristic or represent a particular category.

    Once the activity is done, the moderator will open a discussion on the reasons why participants chose those pictures. This exercise helps explore mental representations or stereotypes in a category of people.

    Example: Showing participants pictures of people with various characteristics in different situations and then asking them who is more likely to buy a certain product.

Conduct Your Focus Group Activities on a Superior Platform That You Can Take Anywhere.

Civicom CCam® focus can clearly capture the flow of conversation and reaction to any stimuli in your focus group sessions. Utilize a range of features that will enhance your qualitative research process. This includes panoramic and full-face video, clear audio, multiple camera angles, and video curation tools. Learn what makes CCam® focus different.

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