'Typically focus groups are used as a means of testing concepts new products and messages. A focus group is qualitative research which means that you do not obtain results with percentages, statistical testing or tables .instead this methodology is less structured than surveys or other quantitative research and tends to be more exploratory as well. Rather than providing quantifiable responses to a specific question obtained from a large sampling of the population, focus group participants provide a flow of input and interaction related to the topic or group of topics that the group is centered around. While they appear to be less formal than a survey, focus groups do provide an important source of information for making business decisions. It is important how ever to ensure that persons using the results of such a qualitative study understand how to correctly interpret the resulting information'. 1
The composition of a focus group is usually based on the homogeneity or similarity of the group members. Bringing people with common interests or experiences together makes it easier for them to carry on a productive discussion. Often a research project will use different groups to get differing views. For example, an organization is planning a major restructuring. It would be desirable to have three separate focus groups - union members, nonunion employees, and managers. Each of these groups would represent a potentially different perspective on the changes facing the organization. Imagine the potential problems in bringing together union members and management. Neither would feel free to speak spontaneously and, depending on the anxiety level, the discussion might possibly spiral out of control. Demographic characteristics are another way to determine focus group composition: A political candidate might consider holding separate focus groups with both men and women or younger and older voters. A company testing a new product might conduct focus groups in different geographical regions. Organizational decision makers might find it useful to have separate focus groups for those who favor and those who oppose a particular issue.
One caution-remember that with a focus group, it is not possible to compare the results from different groups in a strict quantitative sense, because they lack representative ness. Each group may be characterized as augmenting the information of the others - in an effort to look for as many different explanations or interpretations as