The Inherent Bias of Focus Groups

There are many focus group advantages and disadvantages, but it will help to know that there is a better, easier, more accurate alternative.

Like most market research, focus groups come in many shapes and sizes. Client participant, two-way, mini and online focus groups are common methods used to collect the views of users about a product.

There are several fundamental disadvantages of a focus group:

  1. Groupthink– This is the phenomenon in which people in a group conform to one another’s opinions in order to achieve a unified result.
  2. Observer dependency– The moderator’s own bias can subconsciously influence participants of a focus group.
  3. Social desirability– focus groups often aim to please the moderator rather than provide unfavorable opinions.
  4. Lack of anonymity– unlike other research methods, focus group users’ gender, age and other demographics are transparent instead of anonymous, which could change their responses.
  5. Data analysis– analyzing the collective data garnered from focus groups can be difficult as not all users state their opinions

Overcome Focus Group Disadvantages

The feedback consumers leave in a product review is different than what they would say in a focus group for many reasons. Firstly, they are not leaving the feedback in a group setting. Without being subject to groupthink their opinion is their own. Because online product reviews are more anonymous, they are not subject to the other biases that come with having someone observe their responses and the desire to say what’s socially acceptable.

If you are developing a new product and you don’t have any online reviews but need feedback, there are two options. One, you can set up a product launch review program where you provide the product at a discount or free rate in exchange for an honest review. This can provide you with the essential feedback and jumpstart your launch with a nice set of reviews. Secondly, you can also monitor your competitors’ reviews to see what consumers like and dislike about your direct rival products.

Focus Groups vs. Consumer Reviews

Focus groups suffer from psychological forces that can lead to poor results when trying to understand the voice of the consumer. However, when a consumer leaves a review it is anonymous and isn’t influenced by a groups bias.