Yes, that’s a clickbait title.
It’s also a very common and genuine sentiment. If you run a quick search on Twitter for “better than focus groups,” you can see that they take a lot of heat for not being the best methodology available to researchers.
But why should focus groups be the best methodology?
Indeed, why should any methodology be the best methodology?
Sometimes, biometrics really is the best methodology. But sometimes, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, mall intercepts, mystery shopping, transactional analysis, or loyalty analytics are the best.
When planning a research study, it’s impossible to know what the “best,” or most appropriate methodology will be until you have thoroughly outlined the research objective, desired outcomes, and intended action plan.
If your goal is to make predictions that will generalize to a defined population of people, then you’ll need a methodology that supports random sampling and large sample sizes. If your goal is to understand how certain products and packages are improperly used, you’ll need a methodology that allows you to observe people, whether that’s in their homes, workplaces, or a research facility, as they try to use a product.
Declaring an eternally winning methodology is simply unscientific. It’s also lazy. It gives the researcher permission to turn off their analytical brain and use whatever methodology they are most familiar with. It’s equivalent to banging in a screw with a hammer.
Sure, it’s easy to always carry a hammer with you, ready for banging at every opportunity, but in the larger scheme of things, hammers are quite far from being the most effective building tool ever.
This ongoing desire to claim one methodology as the best isn’t helpful. But what is helpful is to have a wide range of tools, each one uniquely suited to solve a certain set of problems.
That’s how, today, biometrics will be the winner but, tomorrow, they’ll be the loser when a focus group is by far the right tool for the job.
If you’re ready to hammer out a research problem, please get in touch with us!
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- Conducting research is easy… if you understand hundreds of cognitive biases!
With nearly 40 years of experience, Canadian Viewpoint is a field and data collection company that specializes in English and French offline and online services. We offer sample, programming>, hosting, mall intercepts, pre-recruits, central location recruitment, mystery shopping, site interviews, IHUTs, sensory testing, discussion boards, CATI, facial coding, and other innovative technologies. Learn more about our services on our website. Canadian Viewpoint is a founding board member of CRIC (Canadian Research Insights Council) and named on both the 2019 GRIT Top 50 list of Emerging Players and Women in Research shortlist for Best Places to Work.