Focus Groups: Part 6.3 – Analyze the Results

7 mins read

This article explains the 4th and final step in analyzing the results of a focus group, which is interpreting and summarizing the findings.

Focus groups produce a large amount of data to use in market research for a company. Focus groups involve a group of participants, a facilitator or mediator, and a notetaker. The facilitator leads the group discussion by asking various questions focused on a specific topic for a company’s market research, while the notetaker marks down observations and usually records the session as well. The data that comes from focus groups is important as it can be observed, recorded, and characterized based on attributes and properties rather than producing numbers or statistics. The true value of focus groups comes in analyzing the results they have produced. Part 6.1 of analyzing the results explained the debrief, reviewing, and transcribing elements of analysis, while Part 6.2 explained organizing and categorising the results. In this final article on focus groups, we go over the last step in analyzing the results which involves interpreting and summarizing the findings.

Interpret and Summarize Findings

At this point, whoever has been conducting the focus group analysis most likely knows the data inside and out. From creating and reviewing the transcript of the discussion, to organizing and categorizing all the results, there has been a great deal of examination, consideration, and investigation into the results. Now that the data is clearly laid out and organized, which will help significantly in making this last step fairly easy, it is time to interpret and summarize the findings by answering important questions!

Here are some great questions to answer to summarize the results:

      1. What major themes emerged?
      2. What are the main ideas that emerged from all the focus groups on this topic?
      3. What participants’ words summarize the key points best?
      4. What were the most common responses?
      5. What questions produced different results among different demographics? (i.e. gender, age, occupation, etc.)
      6. Is there new discovery, knowledge, or insight that has come to light from the results?
      7. Does the discovery or new knowledge change your perspective? If so, how?
      8. What theories can be developed?
      9. How might these findings be used to improve programs, services, policies, etc.?
      10. How can future focus groups, surveys, or research expand on the findings?

Focus Group Report

If a formal focus group report is required, it is typically broken down into several sections. While this may not be the most appealing option to summarize the results, it may be necessary for the findings to be passed along in their entirety. Here are recommended sections to include in a focus group report:

1. Cover Page – Name of the report, date, location, company name, topic discussed.

2. Executive Summary – Outlines when and where the focus group was held, who participated (by description, not name), the purpose, and any broad results obtained. This is a summary, so keep it brief as the report will go into more detail for each section.

3. Purpose – This section describes what the company hoped to learn from the focus group, the reason it was organized. This is where the product or service being researched is explained, as well as the reason why.

4. Participants – This section details who the participants were. Again, this is their demographics, not their names. Be as specific as possible, don’t just include simple demographics such as age, sex, and occupation. For example, if it is a focus group with women, also identify their marital and parental statuses. These details help identify what the participants had in common.

5. Findings – This can start with a general overview of the results, then include each question that was asked, along with the members’ responses. Also make sure to incorporate the facilitator and notetaker’s personal views and remarks about the participants’ responses, including mention of body language and tone.

6. Recommendations – Give any recommendations that can be made from the findings. List differences between what was expected and what was learned. Explain why the recommendations are being made based on the information and knowledge gained during the focus group.

7. Conclusion – Finish the report with a conclusion that recaps the report, its findings, recommendations, and further research that is suggested.

Results Oriented

Organizing and conducting focus groups is valuable for market research as they are results-oriented. To get the most out of those results, conducting an in-depth analysis will show the true value. While there are many different ways to analyze data in order to identify the findings, we have broken down the process into a debrief, reviewing, transcribing, organizing, categorizing, interpreting, then summarizing.

This concludes our series on focus groups. Now that the full process has been explained from choosing the topic of the focus groups, to preparing, conducting the focus group discussion, and interpreting the data, it may be time to consider if getting focused in your business’s market research could provide value!

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