How to Budget for Focus Groups

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Marketing research firms conduct focus groups, which generally consist of five to 12 participants, to interview members of a company's target market. During a focus group, participants are asked various questions about the company and the products it offers. Questions may revolve around pricing, naming the product, getting feedback on flavors or identifying issues with the customer service. Entrepreneur estimates that focus group costs may range from $4,000 to $6,000, so budget accordingly.

Hire an external firm that specializes in pre-screening quality, potential focus group candidates, to ensure that participants are a fit for your company's target market. Since the quality of the group dictates the quality of your results, include the cost for the recruiting firm on your focus group budget. The cost may vary depending on your industry, geographic location, the date and time of your focus group and your target market.

Pick a location for your focus group and include the price on your budget. If you hire a marketing research firm, they may have a facility available, if not, you can use the conference room at your office and incur no additional fee, or you can reserve space at a local hotel or conference venue.

Include the fee for a moderator on your focus group budget, as a qualified moderator charges a fee for participating in focus group sessions. Moderators are professionals who work to ask the right questions that encourage focus group participants to share their ideas and feelings about your company, and even your competitors.

Hire a script writer and include the fee on your focus group budget. A focus group script, which is read by the moderator, is used to help guide the conversation focus group participants engage in during the session. A script writer will help you thoughtfully craft questions that will help you achieve your overall goals for the session. Reduce expenses by coming up with a script on your own working with your employees to create one.

Leave room in your focus group budget for incentives you plan to give participants who elect to take part in your focus group. Focus group participants are usually paid in cash or gift certificates. Entrepreneur suggests that for a typical focus group session you might pay $35 to $50 for consumers, $50 to $100 for professional individuals and up to $150 for executives, so set your budget according to your audience.

Supply your focus group participants with food, drink, writing utensils, markers, stress balls and other small toys that may help get their creative juices flowing. The types of items you provide will be largely based on your target market. These items are essential to make your focus group a relaxed, creative environment.

Decide whether you want an external firm to compile your focus group data, or if you and your staff will compile it. This is an expense you can leave off of your budget, if you feel that your staff can understand the findings without assistance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Significantly reduce your focus group costs by using an employee as a moderator and hosting the focus group on-site. Beware that professional moderators may be able to get more concise data from your target market, since they are more experienced.

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