Gathering feedback from actual users and testing your product is a tough challenge. One of the popular ways to do research for your startup is to hold focus groups, but we’re here to set the record straight. Holding focus groups is a thing of the past and we’ll prove it to you with our 8 disadvantages of focus groups.
In this article, we’ll tell you what focus groups are, the main disadvantages of focus groups, and best of all, the better alternatives you should choose for validating your idea.
So, without further ado, grab your notepad, and let’s talk about the 8 hidden disadvantages of focus groups.
Before we talk about the main disadvantages of focus groups, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. What are focus groups exactly? If you have an idea and were looking for a way to gather qualitative feedback from a small group (around 10) of people, focus groups will do the trick.
Here’s how a typical focus group discussion would go. You’d gather around 6-10 people in a space and a moderator would initiate an open-ended discussion about a certain topic. Usually, this would be done for the purposes of market research and product development. This way, you’d be able to gather lots of insights about anything you’d like.
Focus groups were popular before the digital sphere became so comprehensive. Nowadays, you can survey thousands of people online with a smaller price tag than holding a focus group.
Along with some benefits, there are also some focus group disadvantages to consider. Off the top of your head, you can imagine that 10 people can’t truly represent a whole niche. Can you truly trust that a couple of groups can know exactly what your product should deliver?
To help you save your precious time, we’ve identified 8 limitations of focus groups that you shouldn’t ignore. Let us prove to you that there are smarter ways of gathering feedback, validating your idea, and creating amazing products for your users.
One of the biggest disadvantages of focus groups is logistics and recruitment. Can you imagine how hard it is to find people who are similar to your ideal customers?
With all the different demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics they must match, finding participants for your focus groups is truly a headache.
Usually, the easiest way to recruit focus group participants is through friends and family, but chances are high that they won’t meet the necessary criteria. This is when you’ll have to work with an agency to locate the necessary people. This brings up different types of costs.
Costs you’ll incur when recruiting focus group participants include agency fees and incentives paid to participants, not to mention the value of the time you’ll spend on the whole process.
Next up on our list of weaknesses of focus groups is bias and unreliable feedback due to social pressure. Let us make it easy on you and just give you a list of reasons why focus groups can have biased conclusions.
Considering that focus groups usually have 6-10 participants, limited representation of the sample is another one of the biggest disadvantages of focus groups.
A lot of statistical calculations go into determining an appropriate sample size that will give a good representation of your population. In any case, even if you hold 10 focus groups, they still might not be enough to represent the general opinions of your target audience.
Combined with all the other disadvantages of focus groups, a limited representation means that the insights you gain will be that much more unreliable.
Another one of the biggest problems with focus groups is sample size calculations. Unless you employ a statistician who can calculate the correct sample size with relevant confidence levels, your insights are bound to be limited.
Usually, sample sizes of any population need to be larger than 10, so focus groups truly limit your ability to gather reliable feedback.
It’s no secret that some people are more extroverted than others. This is something that is out of your control when you’re holding a focus group. Sadly, this brings up one of the biggest disadvantages of focus groups.
A few dominant personalities in your focus group might take up more time sharing their opinions and ultimately monopolize speaking time. This will leave the less dominant participants behind and might stop them from speaking out.
Aside from dominant personalities, there is also the issue of an artificial setting. After all, you won’t be able to have the same kind of discussion with a group of strangers that you would with a group of friends, right?
Knowing that they are there to share their opinion might influence them to come up with different claims as they would in an environment where the pressure is not on.
Having said that, let’s now consider yet another one of the disadvantages of focus groups which is groupthink and limited time.
Putting 10 strangers into a room and asking them different questions is a prime situation for creating groupthink. At this time, you’d stop prioritizing critical thinking and might agree with people in order to keep harmony in the group. This obviously leads to biased insights.
On top of groupthink, focus groups also have a time limitation. It would be evil to keep those 10 strangers in 1 room for longer than an hour, right? And you can’t force them to open up and share their true opinions either.
This is why focus groups are a thing of the past. But if you’re not yet convinced, let us tell you about yet another one of the disadvantages of focus groups.
Gathering qualitative data poses a tough challenge for those who need to decipher it. You can imagine how tough it is to interpret the opinions of 10 strangers, right? On top of this, their opinions can vary so much that generalization goes right out of the window.
Imagine if 5 people have one opinion, and 5 others believe something else. How can that ever be generalized and applied to a whole population?
In terms of interpretation, gathering diverse opinions is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you get tons of feedback and can learn from it, but on the other hand, certain qualitative info might be missing some context in order to make sense.
Hang tight, we’re almost done with the negative part of this guide. Last but not least, let’s talk about participant dishonesty as a huge disadvantage of focus groups.
In this age of mental health awareness, it would be naive to assume that all your focus group participants will share their honest opinions. With different group dynamics, the need to fit in and the fear of criticism are vital factors. Nobody wants to be the odd one out, right?
While people can be honest in safe spaces with their lifelong friends, it’s a bit too optimistic to expect them to do the same with a group of strangers. That’s why focus groups usually produce biased results. Neither the participants nor the hosts get the best out of the whole experience.
Now that you know about the disadvantages of focus groups and why they aren’t worth your precious time, let us tell you what you can do instead.
When ChatGPT can code a whole website for you, build you a presentation, and craft all your social media content, don’t you think there are better ways to gather feedback from customers?
Of course, there are!
One of the best ways to gather feedback from your customers, validate your product, and even generate pre-orders is to use Prelaunch.com. It’s a smart tool with which you can pre-launch your product before you actually launch it. Ultimately, it’ll give you all the insights you need to understand if your product will be a success or not.
Let us tell you a bit more about this alternative, how it can help you validate your product, and why it overcomes virtually all disadvantages of focus groups.
Prelaunch.com, as the name suggests, is a platform that helps you during the pre-launch stage of your startup or business. It helps you validate every aspect of your idea, product, pricing, positioning, and even colors.
The ultimate goal is to help you launch the best possible product for your customers.
Prelaunch also has a feature where you can co-create your product during your product development process in order to craft everything according to your ideal customers’ preferences. And the best part - your future customers pay you to share their opinions.
Prelaunch has a reservation model where users can reserve or “pre-order” your future product by leaving a $10-$20 deposit, which later turns into a discount if you launch. This confirms that they are willing to purchase your product, ultimately validating your idea.
This is not the only way Prelaunch tests and validates your product, so let’s dig a bit deeper and talk about the rest of its benefits.
With all the strengths and weaknesses of focus groups, new and innovative solutions have started knocking focus groups out of the park. So, having talked about the disadvantages of focus groups, it only makes sense to learn about the benefits Prelaunch holds over them.
We won’t keep you here too much longer, so let’s jump right in. Here are the biggest benefits Prelaunch.com has over focus groups.
Have we piqued your interest to ditch focus groups and work smarter (not harder) with Prelaunch.com?
Trust us, there are even more benefits we didn’t get to talk about, including deep customer analytics, success probability calculators, and just an all-in-one validation hub for all your startup’s needs.
Considering all the advantages and disadvantages of focus groups, it’s clear that it’s time for this practice to be benched.
From biased opinions and unreliable sample sizes to unnecessary costs and logistics issues, focus groups are simply not worth it. But don’t worry, we have a better solution!
If you want to play smart, you should validate your idea, product, pricing, value proposition, and more before you take the leap of faith and launch your product. Luckily, there are new digital solutions for doing this right out of the comfort of your home - it’s Prelaunch.com.
This tool allows you to validate every single thing about your product, even including your audience, positioning, and brand colors.
You can generate pre-orders, gauge engagement levels, A/B test landing pages, and more. What more could you ask from a validation platform?
It’s time to say goodbye, and we’ll leave you with this piece of advice - ditch the old focus groups and focus on making new tools streamline your work. The disadvantages of focus groups are simply not worth your energy.