Online Focus Group Discussion: 8 Best Practices To Make it a Success

Focus group

With the rise of online video conferencing tools and also with Covid pandemic, the original method of face to face focus groups discussions are no longer in practice. And, nowadays, focus group discussion is done remotely. Online focus group discussion has become increasingly popular among the market research community. 

How do you make virtual focus group discussions a success? In this blog post, we are sharing practices we have used to make FGDs a success.

Use the regular and popular video conferencing tools

The most common video conferencing tools used are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. As per the data of 2019, Zoom has more than 300 million participants on daily basis. It becomes easier for the participants to use the common ones as a conferencing tool, rather than trying the other options available. This gives them the comfort as well as the confidence to give high-quality feedback.

You can allow participants to join FGDs using their phones

There are many devices participants can use to participate in online focus groups – laptops, phones, tablets. Participants can join the discussion on the device that they feel most comfortable. There are situations when participants have only access to mobile phone as their device. But yes, make sure that the participant has a strong wi-fi connection and use headphones to prevent unwanted noises. 

Reminder is a must

Creating calendar invitations is not so effective mails are skipped by many. But, it is advisable to give a reminder call to respondents the previous day and also a WhatsApp message to remind them when the session is about to start, along with the conferencing too link.

Ensure that the discussion room used by the respondents is a private room

Since this is a group discussion with many participants, it is advisable for respondents to sit at spaces where there is no distraction. It is better to keep the mobile phone on silent mode and also the respondents should not be disturbed by people around them, outside noises, and more. So, make sure the respondent is before hand to choose a closed room for the discussion.

Advice respondents to log in 5, 10 minutes earlier to avoid technical glitches

There should always be some extra time to rectify error while logging in. To log in 5-10 minutes before the group study is always advisable as it is impossible to predict any technical difficulties. By doing this, it allows participants and moderators to fix any unexpected technical issues such as a poor wi-fi connection or software updates. Also, it gives a chance for the moderator to know whether all are present at the discussion or not. In case if there is someone who cannot log in, there must be a back-up available.

Personalize the Experience

The moderator should try to make the discussion lively and should build rapport with participants quickly. A kind of friendly atmosphere needs to be created. This will make the session less boring and everyone will participate.


Don’t include many participants

A successful online focus group best practice is to limit the number of participants. It is better to have participants not more than 8 when conducting focus groups online. This allows for a high engagement from each participant. Plan to recruit 4 to 6 participants per FGDs.

Make the payments or send rewards ASAP

Last, but not the least, pay your rewards immediately. This practice applies to all market research studies, not just online focus groups. Paying a reward or money immediately will help them return for more studies.

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