If you’ve spent any amount of time perusing online products or clicking through social media, you’ve probably encountered targeted online advertising. As you’re googling a new brand of toothpaste that helps with sensitivity but doesn’t taste like baking soda, you may notice that the small, square ads on the side of your browser screen start to offer you products for teeth whitening, fresher breath, or dental services in your area. And why did all of these companies decide you were a part of their target audience? Chances are, they’ve all collected extensive market research about their products. And one primary component of market research is focus groups. Last year Leap Panel, our internal market research team, decided to move our focus groups into the virtual space. We needed a way to continue to provide our clients with accurate statistics from target audiences so that together, we could develop successful campaign strategies, and continuing our use of focus groups is an essential part of this process.

Are Virtual Focus Groups Effective?

Adapting Leap focus groups to a virtual format allowed our team to provide clients with current target audience information throughout the Covid-19 pandemic without delay or down time, which is hugely beneficial to our clients’ time, budget and overall campaign success. We were able to pivot immediately and keep our clients on deadline and moving forward, even amidst the chaos and uncertainty of 2020. The quality of data we received was not diminished in any way by the virtual barrier, and we were still able to measure the potential impact of our clients’ products and campaigns just as we would have in person. After utilizing virtual focus groups for the past 15 months, we’ve compiled a quick list of the many benefits of virtual focus groups: 1. More robust target audience samples The flexibility of utilizing virtual focus groups instead of in-person gatherings actually made it much simpler to find and communicate with more robust target audience samples. 2. Ability to sample from specific locations Because many of our clients sell products across the country or internationally, the ability to recruit focus group members from specific locations gave our clients feedback that was much more relevant to their specific target audiences. 3. More budget-friendly than in-person Virtual groups greatly decrease our clients’ spend because travel or facility rental are no longer considerations. The one notable con of virtual focus groups is that in-person dynamics and observable non-verbal responses are diminished, but ultimately this small loss did not outweigh the time and budgetary savings for our clients, and we are very proud to be able to continue to offer this important resource as a means of gathering market research. The more information we can collect for our clients, the better we can direct campaigns.

How Can My Brand Benefit from Virtual Focus Groups?

Market research will always rely heavily on collecting copious amounts of data and analytics—in fact, Leap has a very robust analytics program and partnership with Enable.Ai to inform our clients’ campaign strategies—but if we only provided this data in a vacuum, we wouldn’t be building a complete picture of any brand’s online footprint. Yes, organic reach and social media engagement are great measurements of a brand’s online reach, but SEO statistics and audience engagement data only make sense if they can be connected to other data points. Virtual focus groups allow us to gather qualitative data about why and how consumers interact with brands and products, and then combine that information with the quantitative data from our analytics programs to give our clients a more complete picture.

What Makes Leap Focus Groups Unique?

Leap Panel is comprised of team members from wide-ranging backgrounds, including sociology, psychology and public relations. This means that our research team is able to prepare and moderate virtual focus groups that not only generate statistics about how and why consumers might use your product, but our team will also provide a depth of knowledge that is rooted in an understanding of the human mind. When you connect your brand with Leap, you gain more than a team of market researchers and big quantitative data; you are also benefiting from researchers who understand how to dovetail human behavior with market research and develop more well-rounded client strategies. Are you interested in adding virtual focus groups to your market research toolbox? Connect with (human)x today to learn more!