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Definition of a Focus Group

 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) are defined as semi structured group discussions, which yield
qualitative data on the community level by facilitating interaction between participants.
 The aim of the FGD is to facilitate interaction and thereby produce, via snowballing of thoughts,
deeper insights.
 FGDs provide information on a group/community level. Perspectives of individuals or households
are not part of the focus. The strength of an FGD is the forum it creates for discussion between
participants, thus eliciting new ideas and explanations, which would not have come up during an
individual or a household interview.

During the FDG

 Participants Selection Process

The following suggestions can be useful in identifying participants for the focus groups in different
 In discrete (isolated, disconnected) communities like villages, settlements or camps: the relevant
local authorities, e.g. the local leader or the camp manager, should be approached for support in
selecting participants for the FGDs. The facilitators of the FGD should actively participate in the
selection, making sure that the desired composition is ensured.
 In structurally more diverse contexts such as urban areas: local organizations and networks, such
as community-based organizations, local NGOs, religious organizations and civil society
organizations can be a source for locating FGD participants.

Some Definitions

“A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their
perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, a service, concept, advertisement,
idea, or packaging” (Henderson, Naomi R., 2009)

“A focus group is a group of individuals selected and assembled by researchers to discuss and
comment on, from personal experience, the topic that is the subject of the research” (Powell et al,

“Focus groups are a form of group interviewing but it is important to distinguish between the two.
Group interviewing involves interviewing a number of people at the same time, the emphasis being
on questions and responses between the researcher and participants. Focus groups however rely on
interaction within the group based on topics that are supplied by the researcher” (Morgan, 1997)

Purposes of Focus groups

 Exploring respondents’ behavior, experiences, ideas, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, feelings,

and reactions in a social setting
 Generating hypotheses
 Finding common language
 Revealing group dynamism and norms
 Brainstorming (product-ideas/concepts, communication-ideas/concepts, …)
 Developing questions or concepts for questionnaires
 Early prototyping


 Direct open questioning

 Projective techniques: role-playing (lovers, haters, users, non users, …); mood boards;
psycho drawing, associations (planet, island, person, animal, …), photo sort, …
 Sub grouping: creating subgroups, let them work independently, and afterwards confront
them with the output and ask for reactions
 Self-administered questioning: forcing the respondents to take an individual independent
position before throwing it in the group
 Check lists: confronting respondents with item lists of brand characteristics, personality
traits, benefits, … (carefully timed during the focus group in order give room for spontaneous
reactions and answering)
 Confrontation with stimulus material: products, packaging, advertising, promotional
material, ideas, concepts (verbal, visual)