Once you have developed a prototype, you need to get feedback about that prototype and observe how potential customers interact with it. A focus group is an excellent way to collect this kind of information. A focus group can be described as a way to bring potential customers from your target market segment together and asking them questions that will promote valuable, insightful feedback.

Keep the following tips in mind to put together an effective focus group:

Don’t make the group too big

The ideal focus group is large enough to develop rich, insightful discussion but small enough so that no participants are left out and everyone’s voice is heard. As a rule of thumb, a group of about 10 people tends to be ideal.

Don’t ask more than 12 questions

The idea of focus groups is to carefully solicit valuable, meaningful feedback from participants, not bombard them with an endless list of questions. Generally, you won’t want to ask any single group more than 12 questions, and if you can keep that number between 8 and 10, that is optimal. Also, keep in mind when developing and choosing questions that your focus group session should never be more than 90 minutes.

Keep questions short and sweet

Remember, a focus group is all about oral communication. In other words, participants won’t have a chance to see or read the questions that they are being asked. That means you need to keep your questions short and sweet. Long-winded, meandering questions will not only confuse a participant, but also likely be hard to follow. Excellent questions will be concise, but thought provoking. Therefore, all questions should be short and to the point, open-ended, and worded in a way that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Ask questions in a logical, coherent order

In order to put together an effective focus group session, you want to work to make sure the conversation flows smoothly from one question to the next. Basically, you want the session to feel more like a natural conversation than a formal interview. In regards to structuring the focus group questions, ideally you will want to ask participants two or three engagement questions, which are designed to introduce participants to the topic at hand and make them comfortable.

From there, you will want to move into exploration questions. These questions are the meat of the discussion and will likely be where you will glean the most valuable insight. They should focus on your product, its features, and its functionality. Last but not least, you will want to close with a few exit questions. These questions should nicely wrap things up, as well as encourage participants to share anything that was covered during the session.

Solicit an experienced moderator to facilitate discussion

The key to a great discussion is a great moderator. An effective moderator will be able to bring different ideas into the conversation, spark valuable feedback, and transition discussion from irrelevant points to relevant ones. If no one on your team has experience moderating focus groups, investing in a professional is wise.

Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with strengths in software development, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial design. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.