Moving focus groups online is a lot like taking other disciplines to the Internet–it’s often faster, cheaper and easier. But there’s more to using a bulletin board focus group than just those basic benefits. The technology has added new capabilities that were previously too difficult to execute–or just flat out not available. In addition to the time and money you can save, here are three more benefits of using an online focus group:
- Removes space/time barriers: Online qualitative research removes the geographic barrier, so your participants can truly represent an entire market–not just the city where your focus group facility is. And because a bulletin board focus group is asynchronous, time-strapped participants, like CEOs and physicians, or participants in different time zones can log in on their schedules.
- Supports longitudinal qualitative studies: Want to follow a group of participants over time for product or acceptance testing? Online focus groups have high participation rates (you can thank the natural setting), which make them a great tool for longer engagements. Plus, if panelists move or their schedules change, they can still participate in the bulletin board focus group (see benefit No. 1).
- Can be anonymous: Researching a sensitive topic? A virtual focus group can provide the protection participants need to be frank about sensitive topics. There’s no face-to-face interaction, and responses can be anonymous, both of which can help increase the participant’s level of self-disclosure.