How to Analyze Focus Group Data More Effectively
In a focus group, researchers bring together carefully-selected individuals to discuss and give feedback on a product or topic.
Focus group techniques are most commonly used by marketing, sociology, and healthcare organizations, and tend to be more useful in initial stages of research, as group dynamics play a powerful way in understanding broader topics and generating new ideas.
However, 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, and often, you may be dealing with hours of recorded focus group discussion. So what’s the best way to put this information into a usable format and make sense of what you’ve heard? It all starts with transcribing your interview.
Transcribe your focus group recordings
Focus groups are a great way to get insight into multiple perspectives and understand the role group dynamics play in purchasing decisions. Plus, a verbal discussion is often more fruitful than a written survey — getting people to talk and interact without the mediation of pen and paper typically provokes deeper, truer statements.
However, audio and video recordings are challenging to organize when they exist purely ‘on tape.’ The best solution is to get these recordings into a written format as soon as possible after the interview.
Having a written transcript of your focus group recording makes it searchable among other transcripts in your records. And the transcript is also searchable in itself, so you can easily jump to a particular keyword or phrase within the interview.
The accuracy of the transcript is critical. You need it to be spot on with quotes in your final report. And we all know the old “Let’s eat Grandma!” trap — incorrect punctuation and homonyms can drastically change meaning.
A transcription partner like Rev offers a quick and accurate way to transcribe your focus group audio.
Shapiro + Raj, one of the largest independent insights companies in the nation, partners with Rev to speed up the analysis process and get the insights they need, especially when conducting focus groups.
“You have a lot of people talking [during a focus group] and the conversations can distract our staff from taking detailed notes,” said Brian Koch, Shapiro + Raj’s Director of Qualitative Analytics. With Transcripts, however, the researchers at Shapiro + Raj can spend more time engaging with participants without running the risk of missing crucial insights.
If you’re pressed for time, choose our Automated Transcription option for a near-instantaneous, automated transcript, which returns a 90%+ accurate auto transcription file to you in minutes. If accuracy is your top priority, order a Human Transcription, which leverages our marketplace of 70,000+ experienced transcribers to deliver you a 99% accurate transcript in less than 12 hours.
Identify major themes and organize the data
Once you get your transcript, read through it with care. While you had some themes in mind when you initiated your focus group, new themes will have likely emerged after your discussion.
You can use Rev’s Transcript Editor to annotate the transcript while 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 the transcript 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.
The next step 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 the responses or highlight the text in your transcript.
- Cut and paste text from your transcript into a database or spreadsheet table.
With Rev’s Transcript Editor, you can edit and organize your transcript by:
- Searching the transcript text or timestamps for specific golden moments you recall from your interview.
- Highlighting quotes, making notes, and adding comments throughout the transcript.
- Editing speaker labels to further differentiate between different participants in your focus group.
- Sharing your transcript with your team and working collaboratively to pull insights faster.
With Rev Workspaces, you and your coworkers across various departments can work independently or collaboratively within a single account to get more done with less effort. You can organize your file libraries in your Rev account by how you work—whether that’s projects, teams or departments—and collaborate with your team members to share and edit files, place new transcript orders, and update project statuses without needing to all physically be in the same place.
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 of your participants (age, income, gender) to explain trends within the data. And finally, tie your findings to potential outcomes and action points.
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.