When we sign up to manage a qualitative project that involves focus groups, one of the first things we establish is screening criteria. In order to build a focus group, things such as demographic criteria (gender, age, and income) as well as behavioral and preferential guidelines (psychographics) need to be outlined. An example of this is that the client may require that half of the respondents need to have at least one pet and enjoy going outdoors. So, how do we go about filling a focus group?
When recruiting those who fit the criteria, it’s also important that we get a good mix of people within each criterion. For instance, if we were to recruit all males to participate in a study for a company that’s looking to release a gender-neutral product, then we’d automatically be missing out on the perspective of half of the target audience. To protect against this, we set up a quota sheet. The document is a visual representation of criteria that helps to ensure that we recruit a varied mix of respondents within the targeted group.
An example of the types of people we sought for a recent project:
• 20-24 total participants
• Half of respondents must have at least one pet in the household
• All respondents must “somewhat” enjoy being outdoors (3,4,5 on a scale of 1-5)
• All respondents must reside in New England
• Mix of gender, age (all between 18-60), marital status, income, education
The quota sheet is set up in an Excel spreadsheet with a boxed section for each screening criteria, with smaller sections within each box that represent sub-groupings.
This project would include the following groupings and numbers of people within each group:
• Pets – 10-12 pet owners / 10-12 no pets
• Outdoors People – 6-8 somewhat enjoy, 7-8 enjoy, 7-8 very much enjoy
• New England – 4 in each group: ME, NH, NJ, RI, MA, CT
• Gender – 10-12 male, 10-12 female
• Age – five to six in each group: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-59
• Marital Status – 4-5 in each group: Single, Married, Live w/Partner, Divorced/Separated, Widowed
• Income – 4 in each group: <$25k, $25-49k, $50-74k, $75-99k, $100-149k, $150>
• Education – 4 to 5 in each group: High School, Some College/Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
What happens if you can’t fill the focus group?
Sometimes it can be tricky to fill a group, particularly when we’re at the end of the process and only have a couple of slots left to fill. In those cases we might end up looking for an 18-24 year old male that doesn’t have a pet, that has a doctorate degree and is divorced. In cases where very few, if anyone, might fit the criteria, trade-offs can be made. This is perfectly acceptable because, at that point, we’re very confident that we have a solid representation of each variable within the study itself. So, if we find someone that meets 2-3 of the ideal criteria, then the recruiting portion of the project is in good shape!
For more tips and advice about focus group recruiting read this article: FOCUS GROUP RECRUITING TIPS AND EVENT MARKETING.