Focus Groups are generally used to gather people’s opinions, ideas, and beliefs on a certain topic or product.  While surveys or questionnaires can be useful, they can not capture what a person is thinking or feeling.  This is where a focus group will come into play.  Responses in a focus group are open ended, broad, and qualitative.  They provide more depth and get closer to what people are really thinking and feeling even though their responses may be harder or even impossible to record on a scale.  The main purpose of focus group research is to draw upon respondents’ attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions in a way where other methods are not applicable.

A Focus Group allows the researcher to gather more information in a shorter period of time, generally two hours. Focus groups can provide insight into complicated topics where opinions or attitudes are conditional or where the area of concern relates to multifaceted behavior or motivation. Focus groups are particularly useful when there are power differences between the participants and decision-makers or professionals. They are also useful to help the researcher prepare for a study on a larger scale.

Focus Groups are generally used when there is little or no knowledge about the target market.  Most commonly Focus Groups are used when a new product or service is being developed and the company is not sure how the public will react.  In this instance, a Focus Group is conducted to get opinions, ideas, suggestions, and reactions before the product or service is available to the public.  Once the information is gathered, changes may be applied to the service or product to make sure that it will be received well by the target audience.