The front cover of Focus Groups 101

The first guidebook on the fundamentals of focus group research written for marketers and business leaders by a marketer and business leader.

If you search for books on how to conduct focus groups, most of what you will find are lengthy, expensive books geared toward the professional market researcher. Also, despite what you might expect, market research is typically a very small part of business school curriculum, though market research will be a responsibility of many business people, including most marketers.

This book is written with the marketer and business leader in mind. It’s a quick 100 page read that will answer your burning questions on what, who, where, when, why and how to use focus group research to better understand your consumers.

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The Reason for Focus Groups

A satirical cartoon about focus groups

Marketers typically live and work in places that do not represent the “average” consumer. It’s no wonder one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is assuming our own motivations mirror those of the people who buy our products and services.

The front and back cover of the book Focus Groups 101

Detailed Book Summary

Marketers typically live and work in places that do not represent the “average” consumer. It’s no wonder one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is assuming our own motivations mirror those of the people who buy our products and services.

This book is for anyone who wants to understand how to conduct focus group research to make better consumer-informed business decisions. Understanding consumers’ perspectives will ultimately help marketers and other business leaders excel in their own careers by allowing them to create products, services and messages that best meet consumers’ needs and desires.

Many new brand managers, and other business people outside of the marketing function, are given the responsibility of “doing focus groups” without much training on how best to do it. Reading this book will prepare you to approach your  next focus group project confident you are well informed. 

Meant to be a quick read, this book is intended to feel more like satisfying a curiosity than studying for an exam.

In Part One, the book explains and gives pros and cons of several research methodologies and the best applications for each. I will give a broad overview of the two main types of market research, quantitative and qualitative. Then we  will delve into specific qualitative methodologies and, finally, move into the meat of the book on how to conduct successful focus groups.

Part Two contains The Brand Marketer’s Guide to the 5 Stages of Focus Group Research. The process provided in this book for managing a focus group project can be applied more broadly to many qualitative research methodologies.

The 5 Stages of Focus Group Research are:

  1. Write the Research Brief
  2. Recruit the Participants
  3. Develop the Discussion Guide and Stimuli
  4. Conduct the Research
  5. Analyze and Share the Research Results

Having lived both sides, I hope this book will help build a stronger connection between the marketing and market research functions. Focus groups are one form of qualitative market research. Market research overall exists to mitigate business risk and maximize business potential by cultivating understanding of what motivates the end users of products and services. In the end, it’s all about selling more stuff, but it’s doing it by providing what the consumer needs or desires when and where they want it, not by “pushing” more stuff at them.

Whether you are doing a focus group study yourself or working with a qualitative research supplier, understanding the five stages of managing a focus group project will help make your research more effective, more efficient, and more actionable for your business. Over time, this will lead to more sales and ultimately more success in your marketing career.

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About the Author

Michele Brenner is the Principal/Moderator for Brenner Brand Marketing LLC, which has been providing marketing consulting and qualitative research to consumer brand marketers since 2005. Michele’s natural curiosity about people, classical consumer packaged goods marketing training, and business management background, combine to make her brand of qualitative research insightful and actionable for the end user. Michele completed the Advanced Moderating course at the RIVA training institute in 2009 and she stays on the cutting edge of research with Qualitative Research Consultants Association training sessions.

Previously a Director of Marketing at Scotts Miracle-Gro, Michele has over a decade of corporate experience growing branded businesses with Scotts Miracle-Gro, Campbell Soup Company and DMB&B (advertising account management on the Clearasil brand for Procter & Gamble). She is known for being results-oriented and effective, having posted double-digit sales and profitability gains for several businesses including V8 Splash and a number of Scotts TurfBuilder lawn care products.

Her career in brand management has given her extensive experience across a broad range of areas, including market research, new product development, project management, team leadership, marketing plan development, brand positioning, advertising development, media planning, package design, customer presentations, pricing, public relations, consumer and trade promotion, P&L management, budgeting, manufacturing, and logistics.

Michele earned a Master’s Degree in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona and a Bachelor of Arts in German Area Studies from the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her three children and a menagerie of pets.


Focus Group Document Examples

Just provide your first name and email address, then we’ll email you this complimentary bundle of essential focus groups document examples.

  • Focus Group Research Costs Breakdown
  • Participant Screener Specifications
  • Participant Screener Survey
  • Discussion Guide Outline
  • Full Discussion Guide