The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way businesses operate, including how they conduct market research. One of the most popular methods of gathering consumer insights, focus groups, were put on hold due to the risk of spreading the virus. However, with the rollout of vaccines and the decrease in the number of cases, in-person focus groups have started to return.
For many businesses, in-person focus groups are the preferred method of gathering consumer insights. It allows them to observe participant reactions and interactions in real-time, ask follow-up questions, and get a better understanding of the emotions and motivations behind their opinions. With the rise of virtual focus groups during the pandemic, some businesses found that they were missing out on the nuances of in-person interactions.
Click HERE to take a 360 of ShapardResearch's Oklahoma City facility
Now that the pandemic has subsided, businesses have been eager to resume in-person focus groups. One of the main advantages of in-person focus groups is that they allow for a more intimate and authentic conversation. Participants can see and hear each other’s reactions and engage in back-and-forth dialogue, which can lead to deeper insights. In contrast, virtual focus groups can feel disconnected and sterile, with participants feeling less comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.
Another advantage of in-person focus groups is that they provide a more controlled environment. In-person focus groups can take place in a specially designed facility where the researchers can control the lighting, sound, and other environmental factors to create the perfect setting for the study. This can lead to higher quality data and insights, as the participants are less distracted and more focused on the task at hand.
"While virtual focus groups have their advantages, many businesses prefer the authenticity and intimacy of in-person interactions."
However, it’s important to note that in-person focus groups aren’t completely back to pre-pandemic norms. Shapard Research's facility has implemented new health and safety protocols to ensure the safety of all participants. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, providing hand sanitizer, requiring masks, and maintaining social distancing.
Another factor that has changed is the recruitment process for in-person focus groups. With many people still hesitant to gather in large groups, Shapard Research has had to adjust its recruitment strategies. This includes recruiting more participants than usual to account for potential no-shows and last-minute cancellations, as well as offering higher incentives to encourage participation.
In conclusion, in-person focus groups are slowly returning as the pandemic subsides. While virtual focus groups have their advantages, many businesses prefer the authenticity and intimacy of in-person interactions. With the implementation of new health and safety protocols and adjusted recruitment strategies, in-person focus groups can still provide valuable insights while ensuring the safety of all participants. As the world continues to adapt to the post-pandemic landscape, in-person focus groups will likely remain a crucial tool for businesses to gather consumer insights.