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Market Research: Determining Why Phone Interviews Are Sometimes Better Than Focus Groups

2011 September 18

Market research, like market sizing, target marketing, market segmentation, product positioning, pricing, and customer satisfaction research, demands excellent data for the results to be reputable. Getting dependable customer or potential customer information requires very good data compilation.

As a start up or an expansion stage company, if you’re speculating how to do your most important research and you are making an effort to decide between gathering information via a focus group and phone interviews, these scenarios below will aid you in deciding when telephone interviews work better than focus groups:

Telephone interviews are preferable when the type of research you’re executing is complicated: If you’re executing a study that calls for your respondents to answer multi-step questions (e.g., implementing an enterprise application), it’s more straightforward to walk every respondent through the set of questions on the phone. In a focus group scenario, this is only going to get complicated and chaotic.

Phone interviews present you with a “cleaner read”: In a focus group, respondents’ thought processes could be very easily motivated by other group members. Since phone interviews are one-on-one, respondents’ answers are less prejudiced and more their own.

Telephone interviews are more “anonymous” and are better for gathering sensitive and exhaustive data : With a phone interview, you can keep the respondents’ answers confidential. Respondents don’t have to answer questions in front of a group of strangers, which may keep them from being honest. The one-to-one relationship with the interviewer on the telephone can help solve this.

Phone interviews make it easier to connect with your target audience: Maybe there aren’t too many of your target customers in the location/region you’re running your focus group. Telephone interviews allow you to “cherry pick” prospects from across the country, and even the world.

You have inadequate time and want to begin your research right away: With phone interviews you can start interviewing as soon as you get your first recruit. You won’t suffer the time lag that you’d otherwise have with getting a group of respondents together, finding a location, a moderator and planning an entire event; you can do your phone interviews by yourself.

Better participation from respondents: Since respondents can take phone calls from anywhere, they can be more flexible, which boosts the chance of participation in the study. Also, the same faces tend to show up at focus groups; telephone interviews enable you to talk to new people from new markets. So, with telephone interviews, not only can you get more contribution, but you can also get better quality contribution too.

Telephone interviews are much cheaper: In-depth focus groups can get extremely costly. Not only do you have to pay for the moderator to lead the session, you also have to pay him/her for summarizing the data and presenting it to you. In the case that you want to attend the focus group yourself, you have to add in the cost of your travel, lodging and other expenses, as well as the financial incentives needed to pay respondents for their involvement. Conversely, if your phone interviews are short enough, a lot of times you can get by without paying anything.

Faria Rahman assists our portfolio with research initiatives.

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