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Why Phone Interviews Can Be Better Than Focus Groups In Market Research

2012 March 2

Market research, like market sizing, target marketing, market segmentation, product positioning, pricing, and consumer satisfaction research, demands good information for the final results to be credible. Acquiring reputable buyer or potential client data requires good data collection.

As a start up or an expansion stage organization, if you’re wondering how to go about your primary research and you are trying to decide between compiling data through a focus group and telephone interviews, the following situations will assist you in determining when phone interviews work better than focus groups:

Phone interviews are better when the type of research you’re executing is complicated: If you’re carrying out a study that demands your respondents to answer multi-step questions (e.g., applying a business application), it’s less trouble-free to usher each respondent through the set of questions on the telephone. In a focus group setting, this will get confusing and muddled.

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 telephone interviews are one-on-one, respondents’ replies are less subjective and more their own.

Telephone interviews are more “anonymous” and are preferable to collecting confidential and in-depth information : With a phone interview, you can keep the respondents’ answers confidential. Respondents needn’t have to answer questions in front of a group of strangers, which may prevent them from being direct. The one-to-one relationship with the interviewer on the telephone can help solve this.

Telephone interviews make it much easier to get through to your target audience: Maybe there aren’t too many of your target buyers in the location/region you’re running your focus group. Phone 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 immediately: With phone interviews you can start interviewing as soon as you have 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 telephone calls from anywhere, they can be more flexible, which boosts the chance of involvement in the study. Also, the same faces tend to show up at focus groups; telephone interviews permit you to talk to new people from new markets. So, with telephone interviews, not only can you get more input, but you can also get better quality input too.

Telephone 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 information 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, as well as the financial incentives required 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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