Online Focus Groups
An online focus group is exactly as it sounds—a group of a set number of participants who engage in a moderated conversation over the internet. The big advantage of online groups is that they allow for focus groups of a population (e.g., managers of a national retail store), who are not concentrated in any one geographic location, and there can be some cost savings (e.g, no travel expenses, etc). When discussing certain very private or personal issues, respondents may be more willing to open up in online groups. However, when possible, we tend to recommend traditional groups, for a lot can be lost in online groups, such as the engagement and interaction of the participants, and the moderator's ability to gauge facial expressions and to draw out participants who are less forthcoming. Nonetheless, there are many instances where on-line groups are preferable, and we have plenty of experience to make that happen.