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How to Analyze Focus Group Data


Nov 8, 2021

How to Analyze Focus Group Data

RevBlogMarket ResearchHow to Analyze Focus Group Data

In a focus group, researchers interview carefully-selected individuals on a topic of importance. Focus group techniques are most commonly used by sociology, healthcare, and marketing organizations. But any professional or academic who hopes to “understand, and explain, the meanings, beliefs, and cultures that influence the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals” can make good use of focus group data.

Qualitative research requires its own analysis strategies. You may be dealing with hours of recorded focus group discussion. Let’s take a look at how to put it into a usable format and make sense of what you’ve heard.

1. Transcribe Your Focus Group Recordings

A verbal discussion is often more fruitful than a written questionnaire. Getting people to talk and interact without the mediation of pen and paper provokes deeper, truer statements. But audio and video recordings are challenging to organize while they exist purely ‘on tape.’ So, it is best to get them into a written format as soon as possible after the interview.

A written transcript of your focus group recording makes it searchable among others in your records. The transcript is also searchable in itself, so you can jump to a particular keyword or phrase.

Accuracy is critical. You need the transcript to be spot on when quoting extracts in your final report. And we all know the old “Let’s eat Grandma!” trap. Punctuation and homonyms change meaning.

Rev transcription services offer a quick and accurate way to transcribe your focus group audio. Our trained human transcriptionists guarantee 99% accuracy and complete the work in 12 hours. You can also order a near-instantaneous, AI-generated transcript. This option promises accuracy levels of 80% or more, so it’s great to work with in the interim.

2. Identify Major Themes

Read through your transcript with care. You had some themes in mind when you initiated your focus group. But if your discussion was thorough, new themes will have emerged.

Annotate the transcript as you read, separating it into sections with descriptive titles. This helps you build a separate list of themes. You might not return to them all, but when you’ve read through from a thematic perspective, you’ll have a clearer idea of the underlying drift. Then you can choose the most important themes with which to dissect the data.

3. Organize the Data

The next step in analyzing focus group material is to organize the data by question and theme.

How you do this will depend on how you think and how your organization works. You might:

  • Color-code responses. Print your transcript and use highlighter pens, or highlight the text in your word processing software.
  • Print your transcript and cut out the responses with scissors, arranging them into piles or pinning them on a wall chart.
  • Cut and paste text from your transcript into a database or spreadsheet table.

If the first two options sound a little old-school, remember that working with paper in a ‘real world’ space can help people spatialize and better comprehend research material.

4. Interpret the Themes and Ideas in Context

By now, you should have a good idea about the nature of your data. So, it’s time to interpret the major themes and ideas in the context of your business needs.

Begin by identifying the main ideas that recurred across your focus group discussions. Where possible, identify quotes that encapsulate themes and trends. Nothing tells a story like dialogue! Draw a distinction between general trends and unique but significant outlier responses. Often, one unusual answer can illuminate a more common group trend.

Don’t forget to read the data in light of the demographics (age, income, gender) to explain trends within the data. And finally, tie your findings to potential outcomes and action points.

Human Data

Focus group data puts the human touch back into research. A dialogue between real people and textual analysis by a flesh-and-blood expert (that’s you). Once you’ve got an accurate transcript of your focus group discussion, your most powerful tool is your brain.

Affordable, fast transcription. 100% Guaranteed.