Focus groups

Overall Purpose

To explore in-depth through group discussion, e.g. reactions to an experience or suggestion, understanding common complaints. Useful in and marketing.



Can quickly and reliably produce collective impressions.

Can be an efficient way to gather range and depth of information.

Can be useful in groups of children or youth who may be more comfortable sharing in a group setting.

Quality controls in that participants tend to check each other and weed out false or extreme views.

Highly enjoyable to participants.

Great way to get youth to share stories. are a good way to get comfy with participants.

Incentives can be easily provided, such as a snack or meal.



Can be hard to analyze responses.

Need good facilitator for safety and closure. Managing attendees is essential so that the focus group is not dominated by one or two people.

Effective facilitators:

  • Demonstrate active listening techniques
  • Demonstrate and positive regard for participants
  • Restrain from expressing personal views
  • Show curiosity and rigorously pursues answers to the questions

Difficult to schedule 6 to 8 people together.

Can’t go as deep in conversation with each person.

Constrained by limited time, so can ask fewer questions.

CREE Considerations

If using this approach, carefully consider dynamics in the group setting- are all participants comfortable sharing their experiences with the group and the focus group leaders? 

Make sure the focus group is representative of your audience, and/or have multiple

Focus groups can help assure that the commonalities amongst participants are brought to the table, and non-commonalities are not marginalized. 

Consider times to use focus groups outside or at the end of a program.