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Market Research Scenarios: Why To Use Phone Interviews Over Focus Groups

2012 May 3

Market research, like market sizing, target marketing, market segmentation, product positioning, pricing, and customer satisfaction research, demands good information for the results to be credible. Getting dependable buyer or prospect data needs great data collection.

As a start up or an expansion stage organization, if you’re speculating how to undertake your major research and you are making an effort to choose between gathering information via a focus group and phone interviews, the following situations will aid you in deciding when telephone interviews work better than focus groups:

Telephone interviews are better when the type of research you’re carrying out is complex: If you’re undertaking a study that calls for your respondents to answer multi-step questions (e.g., employing a business application), it’s less uncomplicated to guide each respondent through the set of questions on the phone. In a focus group environment, this will get confusing and disordered.

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

Phone interviews are more “anonymous” and are more superior gathering confidential and comprehensive information : With a telephone interview, you can keep the respondents’ answers private. Respondents don’t have to answer questions in front of a group of strangers, which might prevent them from being frank. The one-to-one relationship with the interviewer on the phone can aid in remedying this.

Telephone interviews make it less difficult to make contact with your target audience: Perhaps there aren’t too many of your target buyers in the location/region where 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 intend 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, deciding on a location, a moderator and planning an entire event; you can do your phone interviews by yourself.  

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

Phone interviews are much cheaper:  In-depth focus groups can get very expensive. 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 factor in the cost of your travel, lodging and other expenses, along with the financial incentives needed to pay respondents for their participation. 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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