Here at CM Research, we like to think we've got focus groups with pet owners and veterinary professionals down to a fine art. We've run countless groups over the years – exploring topics ranging from the shape of doggy dental chews to the process of using blood chemistry analysers in a veterinary practice. 

Focus groups are a proven and popular method of gaining insight qualitatively. Typically, an   experienced moderator (an interviewer trained in managing a group discussion) takes between three and eight participants through a detailed discussion on the subject area. The open question style allows the moderator to respond dynamically to participants therefore fully drawing out the reasoning behind each statement. Participants are also encouraged to respond to each other which helps build a picture of differing viewpoints.

Collaborative discussion is one of the key benefits of focus groups. In a group format, participants can actively debate and consider the opinions, ideas and feelings presented to them. Participants can be specifically selected in order to ensure there is a varied mix of preferences, experiences and demographic characteristics – which can lead to greater reliability of the research findings as the overall findings are representative of the real-world target market. Group settings, if managed correctly, can support and relax participants – leading to openness and honesty about topics that may be awkward to discuss one-on-one. Round-table sharing can prompt participants to critically evaluative their own thoughts, views and feelings as well as reminding them of events that they may have forgotten, leading to greater depth of insight.  

We like to use a variety of techniques in our groups to elicit insightful responses. Projective techniques such as association (what words / pictures would you associate with X?), choice ordering (place brands or concepts along a scale) and questioning (what do you think the average customer would think of…?). Probing (gently challenging a participant's response through the use of 'why' and 'how' questions) and laddering (which considers attributes, consequences and values) are also valuable techniques to understand thoughts and feelings about a topic.

Viewing discussion groups is a great way for you and your team to absorb and process your target market's perspective. CM Research offers bespoke project design and management. We often run focus groups during veterinary conferences around the world which can be a very cost-effective solution. Additionally, we're often able to often able to offer clients the option to observe groups either remotely (making it a great option for larger or dispersed teams) or at the venue. Our offices in Surrey are also equipped to host focus groups and are wired to live-stream proceedings to an observer room.

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