Online Focus Groups

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School of Economics and Business Administration
Department of Business Administration
Chair of Marketing
TIX2175 – Marketing Research and Marketing Planning

Maria Maniou, Eleni-Maria Pagoni, Vasiliki Parasyri and Daniela Schneider ONLINE FOCUS GROUPS
Research paper

Supervisor: Iivi Riivits-Arkonsuo
Tallinn, 29.05.2013
Herewith we declare that this essay is based on our own work. All views, opinions and data from different sources by other authors are used only with a reference to the source. This document has not been submitted for any degree or examination in any other university.

Table of Content
1. Definition5
2. Types of online focus groups6
3. How to conduct online focus groups8
3.1. The role of the moderator9
3.2. Using Channel M2 to conduct online focus groups9
3.3. Cost10
4. Advantages of online focus groups11
5. Disadvantages of online focus groups13

The upcoming of the Internet has influenced today´s society tremendously. Many people, especially digital natives, cannot imagine a world without it anymore. The Internet has also made its entry into empirical market and social research as a medium. Simultaneously, an increasing interest in the topic can be noticed as the number of publications about the issue of online marketing research is was published. Whereas early publications dealt with scientific and academic fundamental research, more previous articles focussed on the practical application of online research. However, opinions differ whether the Internet is a definite improvement for the marketing research industry or the exact opposite. Online marketing research offers a wide range of qualitative survey methods. A recent development in this field of research and also a new means of forming a focus group is the online focus group. Although the process is rather simple and provides a lot of benefits, the usage of OFGs is strongly disputed and perceived very differently from people. Some solely perceive it as an attempt to establish an alternative for group discussions via the Internet whereas others see it as an independent tool. The question arises what role OFGs will play in the marketing research industry in the future and if it will gain reputation as well as importance or not. In the course of this paper, an attempt to answer this question will be made. Therefore, first of all, we will aim to provide a comprehensive definition for the term online focus groups to establish a common understanding. Afterwards, three different types of OFGs, namely synchronous, asynchronous and time-extended focus groups, will be introduced. This will be followed by a description of how OFGs are conducted. In this connection, the role of the moderator will be addressed separately as well as the application of a tool called channel M2 to form OFGs and the issue of connected costs. Then the qualitative survey method will be evaluated by referring to its advantages and disadvantages in comparison to traditional face-to-face groups. At the end, we will summarize the most important facts and findings of our research in a conclusion and come back to our initial question. 1. Definition

In order to define the term online focus group, it is rather helpful to have a mutual understanding of what a focus group is. According to Henderson (2009), a focus group is a means of qualitative research which asks a group of individuals, which has been selected by researchers, to provide them with information about their beliefs, perceptions, opinions and attitudes towards the research subject which can be a concept, product, service, idea, advertisement or packaging. The major difference between a traditional and an online focus group is, as the name already suggests, that the information conduction and gathering of the groups takes place online. For Kotler and Armstrong (2010, p. 342) an online focus...
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