Differences in Focus Groups & In-Depth Interviews
There are various methods you can use to conduct qualitative market research. Experienced market researchers understand that there are advantages and disadvantages to each method.
Two of the most common methodologies are focus groups and in-depth interviews. Yet, deciding between a focus group or in-depth interview would depend on a few factors.
Focus groups involve bringing a group of people together to provide feedback on a product. A moderator guides the session and interacts with the focus group participants. A moderator asks the group members questions about the product. The goal is to prompt an open and candid group discussion. Questions are pre-determined and used to get detailed responses from the group participants.
This helps market researchers collect valuable data. For example, a focus group would be a good way to decide which features customers want on a new smartphone. Focus group sessions usually include about 10 participants and last for about 90 minutes. So, each participant has less than 10 minutes of speaking time.
Advantages of Focus Groups
- The diversity of focus groups ensures multiple perspectives.
- Online focus groups are usually more affordable than in-depth interviews. (Light analysis of answers needs no coding and only the use of transcription services such as Rev.)
- This research method is also easiest to organize in a B2C setting.
- The best way to understand the role that group dynamics play in purchasing decisions.
- It is easy to conduct focus groups and generate results quickly.
Disadvantages of Focus Groups
- Focus group participants’ contributions may be disproportionate if there is an outspoken group member.
- There is also a lower average speaking time for each of the group members.
- Focus groups are difficult to organize for B2B settings.
- The participants may influence each other which can affect answers.
- There is a strong possibility that a moderator’s bias can affect results.
Another qualitative data collection technique is in-depth interviews. Researchers ask the recruited respondents questions and encourage them to provide insightful responses. In-depth interviews generally consist of open-ended questions. Therefore, they are ideal for collecting meaningful data about a product or service. The questions are also designed to prompt engagement and detailed responses.
For example, an in-depth interview would be a good way for the smartphone manufacturer to learn how a user finds the phone interface. These face-to-face interviews last anywhere between 45- 60 minutes. But since it is a one-on-one situation, the participant can share much more than in a group setting.
Advantages of In-Depth Interviews
- Recruited respondents have a longer speaking time.
- In-depth interviews offer more detailed feedback for better data collection.
- Researchers can generate results using statistical data analysis.
- There is less chance for moderator bias than in focus group settings.
- Insights gathered from this feedback is usually more useful for the quantitative phase.
Disadvantages of In-Depth Interviews
- In-depth interviews are more difficult and complicated to organize.
- This research method is also generally more expensive.
- The data is more complex to interpret and usually needs special software or coding.
- Writing interview guides can be quite time-consuming; especially for an individual interview.
- This type of qualitative research is challenging to organize in B2B settings.
Which Research Method to Choose
Both focus groups and in-depth interviews can be useful for your research project. Each method deserves a place within the research process. That is because focus groups tend to be more useful initial stages of research. Group dynamics provides a powerful way to understand broader topics and generate new ideas.
Whereas, in-depth interviews are more suitable for the later stages of research. Interviews allow for a deeper dialogue between the participant and the researcher. As a result, your choice should be based on your budget, stage in the process, business settings, and overall requirements.
Both methods can greatly benefit from transcription services, like those provided by Rev. Transcripts allow you to analyze everything said in your focus groups or in-depth interviews, with fully searchable text. Try Rev’s 99% accurate human transcription services or our more affordable machine generated transcripts if you’re on a budget.
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