A Focus Group can be defined as a form of qualitative research.  Qualitative marketing research discovers and explores topics providing direction and depth.  In the world of marketing, focus groups are considered an important tool for acquiring feedback regarding new products as well as various topics.  A focus group typically consists of six to twelve people (respondents) but smaller groups are possible as well.

A Focus Group is an interview, conducted by a trained moderator among a small group of respondents.  A moderator’s job is to keep the discussion going without any problems. Questions are asked, by the moderator, about participants’ perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging in an interactive group setting. The moderator or interviewer creates a permissive and nurturing environment that encourages different perceptions and points of view, without pressuring participants to vote, plan or reach consensus. Focus Groups allow companies wishing to develop, package, name, or test market a new product, to discuss, view, and/or test the new product before it is made available to the public.  Participants of the group are free to talk with other group members.  The group is conducted in an unstructured and natural way to allow group members to give their views from any aspect.

The theory behind a focus group is that of group dynamics.  The belief is that group discussions stimulate conversations which lead to discovery, exploration, direction, and depth about certain topics instead of individual responses to certain questions.  Group discussion produces data and insights that would be less accessible without interaction found in a group setting.  Listening to others verbalize their experiences and opinions stimulates memories, ideas, opinions, and experiences in participants. Focus Groups are useful in understanding how or why people hold certain beliefs about a topic or program of interest.