Archive for the ‘Focus Groups’ Category

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When it comes to focus groups, it’s crucial to recruit the right participants. Typically a focus group includes a small number of people, often between 8 to 12 participants, plus a moderator that helps guide the discussion. The moderator’s goal is to get participants to answer the pre-defined questions in the moderator’s guide, but also to get the respondents engaged with each other in order to facilitate an in-depth discussion on the topic at hand.

So how do you get the right people for the job?

Define the Purpose of the Focus Group – Before you start recruiting members for your focus group, you’ll need to clearly identify the goal of the discussion, which will influence the information gathered. Once you have narrowed down the topics and discussion questions, you’ll have a better understanding of who is best qualified to participate in your focus group. For example, if the goal of the focus group is to test a new product, you will want to identify participants who have used similar products or are interested in similar products.

Screen Participants – Prospective focus group participants are often pre-screened to ensure the selected individuals meet the client’s qualifications. For example, they may have a similar understanding of the product or services being discussed, or they may have different experiences/perspectives that the client wishes to learn more about. With a focus group you want a member that is either a current, lapsed, or prospective user of the product or service under investigation. This will allow the participant to have more knowledge and understanding when participating in the discussion, and will lead to higher quality data.

There are many ways to recruit participants for focus groups, but we have found success in boosting posts on social media. This allows you to reach out to members in a specific region with similar interests, often at a lower cost than other recruitment strategies. Another recruitment strategy is using a customer list, and is likely the most cost-effective solution if the information is available. Customer lists often have current customers as well as leads, which allows you to recruit focus group participants who are already interested in your product and can provide greater insight than those without a demonstrated interest or experience. Recently we have also noticed an uptick in interest in creating a custom research panel. Some companies are creating their own research panel by recruiting current and prospective users who opt-in to provide ongoing feedback. Members are pre-screened and vetted for research projects as they arise. Having an established research panel allows your company to have consumers “at the ready” for any research ventures you plan to conduct, ultimately lowering the cost of future research by gathering participants in a short amount of time. Research panels are also great for companies planning to conduct multiple research studies.

Pick the Right Location – When deciding on a location to hold the focus group, we recommend looking for a facility that is equipped to host focus groups (such as the RMS focus group facility). Focus group facilities are often equipped with digital video and audio equipment needed to record the discussion. This is necessary if the discussion needs to be transcribed, and is a major benefit when it comes to analysis of the data. Another benefit is the presence of a two-way mirror. The mirror allows those on the other side to see into the discussion room, although the participants cannot see beyond the mirror. We find that clients often like to have the option to witness the discussion, and have the opportunity to direct the moderator regarding questions that may arise during the focus group. In instances where a focus group facility is not available, RMS has also coordinated with local hotels and convention centers to coordinate the technical and logistical details of the focus group. Depending on the type of research you’re conducting, it may be important to host the focus group(s) close to those who plan to participate in the discussion. For example, if the study is gathering information on a regional product or service it would be beneficial to conduct the focus group in the sales region in order to connect with members of that community.

Offer an Incentive – It is very hard to get people to volunteer their time to participate without incentives. Incentives can range from offering them to keep or try out the product or service, to cash reimbursement for their time, or a mix of both. We often base the amount of a cash incentive on how long you plan the discussion to take, and also what amount we feel is needed keep the participants engaged and motivated. On average the incentives range from $50 – $300. As an example, we have provided $50 incentives to college students providing feedback on their experience at the institution they attend, while we have given physician’s $300 for a lengthier focus group discussion. The $50 for a short amount of time was enough to keep the college students engaged, while the $300 was necessary to recruit and engage the physicians due to their higher income and more demanding schedules.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at http://www.RMSresults.com.

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The following post was co-written with Zach Shaw, Panel Associate at RMS


What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a non-numerical method used to discover and understand consumer behavior, beliefs, attitudes, experiences, and interactions. Qualitative data is often implemented during the exploratory phase of the research, using unstructured or semi structured techniques to facilitate an open dialogue with the participant(s). Giving the participant more freedom in their response allows them to provide more detail than can be gathered through closed-ended quantitative research. Instead of looking for statistical comparisons, qualitative researchers will evaluate the gathered data to identify trends given by the recipients, and implement solutions.

Types of Qualitative Research:

  • Focus Groups – A focus group includes a small number of people (often 10 or less) brought together to participate in a guided discussion by a moderator. The discussion focuses on specific products, topics, or services, and follows a pre-determined focus group moderator’s guide. The moderator’s guide outlines the questions to be covered, as well as the topics for which the moderator should expect to probe deeper for additional explanation.
  • Intercept Surveys –An intercept survey is a very brief, in-person interview with a participant and an interviewer. For example, the interviewer might approach someone leaving a retail store and ask them a few questions about their experience.
  • In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) –IDIs often take the form of a one-on-one discussion between an interviewer and participant. The interviewer typically follows a semi-structured interview guide, developed prior to the conversation, to direct the discussion. It is common for IDIs to be completed in-person, over the phone, or via the web.
  • Mystery Shopping – Mystery shopping is used to measure the quality of a service, compliance with regulations, or to gather specific information about products and services. This method allows the client to obtain competitive information without being involved in the process. Mystery shoppers often gather this information through telephone calls or by visiting the store and acting as a customer.

Why do Qualitative research?

Qualitative research can be used at any phase of research, but is most commonly done as a first or last step in the research cycle. It can be very valuable when developing new products or marketing initiatives that are looking to gauge consumer perceptions. Qualitative data allows the researcher to have in-depth discussions with participants and allows the researcher to gather more detailed information on consumer needs, behaviors, desires, routines, and a range of other information that companies use for designing products and services. The depth of qualitative research allows the researcher to uncover contextual details that may be overlooked in quantitative research.

What is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research looks for patterns in numeric data and is generally better for confirming and clarifying a research hypothesis. Applying statistical tests to numerical data provides a better understanding of trends, allowing the researcher to make more informed statements about the results. RMS customizes each questionnaire to the needs of the client, but many of the questionnaires follow a structured outline and are primarily made up of closed-ended questions with provided response options for the participant to choose from. This structured approach to research is different than the more conversational approach used in qualitative research.

Types of Quantitative research:

  • Mail/Paper Surveys – A mail or paper survey is a questionnaire that is completed by the participant on a hard copy rather than in digital form. These types of surveys can either be distributed via postal mail or given to the recipient in person to complete. Mail or paper surveys are a great option for populations which may not have easy access to a computer or the internet, but are known for often having a lower response rate than other types of quantitative research.
  • Mixed Mode – Mixed mode research involves more than one type of data collection. For example, data may be collected with a combination of research methods to reach the desired populations. Phone surveys could be used to collect data from an older population who is more likely to have a landline; online surveys may be distributed to those younger than the population receiving the phone surveys, and paper surveys would be used to collect data from the subset of the population who does not have immediate access to a phone or the internet. A mixed-mode approach allows the researcher to ensure data is collected from the target population of interest, with a mode that is most comfortable to that population.
  • Online Surveys – An online survey is a digital version of a questionnaire. Participants may be sent a survey link that is embedded within an email, or they may access it on a social media post, which they can complete online.
  • Telephone Surveys – A telephone survey is completed over the phone. The interviewer takes the participant through the questionnaire question by question.

Why do Quantitative research?

Quantitative research often gathers a larger number of responses, allowing the researcher to make more reliable assumptions regarding the resulting data. Quantitative research questions can be used to measure consumer feelings, satisfaction, and other factors in a structured form, giving the recipient limited response options.  This quantifiable approach to research is a great option when a client has a sense of what their target audience thinks, feels, or expects, but would like to further test their assumptions.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS). 

Background: An advertising firm partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct image and awareness focus groups for their client, an international quick service restaurant. The end-client wanted to better understand consumer perceptions of the restaurant’s menu, products, pricing, facilities, employees, and the brand overall. The market research objective was to gather the insights needed for the restaurant to improve the customer experience.

Approach: The study consisted of three 100 minute focus groups. Focus group participants were selected from the RMS ViewPoint Research Panel based upon the frequency that they visit the restaurant. The first focus group included millennials who were either current or former restaurant users. The second group was made up of current restaurant users, and the last group included only former users of the quick service restaurant. RMS staff moderated the focus groups, which were held at the RMS QualiSight Focus Group facility in Baldwinsville, NY. RMS recruited 12 participants for each group, to ultimately seat 10 to participate in the discussion. RMS completed the project in approximately six weeks.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • Participants reviewed several commercials, identified their favorite, and provided feedback on how the commercials could be improved. This allowed the end-client to determine the appropriate message for each customer type.
  • Research revealed what the restaurant is known for among consumers, allowing the end-client to identify brand strengths and areas of opportunity.
  • Participants identified top competitors and reasons for choosing them instead of the end-client restaurant. Consumers noted that they are willing to pay slightly more for what they perceive to be fresher, higher quality ingredients.
  • It was clear that the consumer definition of “fresh” has evolved in recent years. Although the client was a previous leader in the healthy eating movement, focus group participants felt that the quick service restaurant has not evolved with the perception of fresh and has thus faced steep competition by newer restaurant entrants to the healthy eating movement.
  • Participant feedback revealed the need for the restaurant to update the quality and variety of ingredients, and refresh the restaurant facilities. One of the recommendations offered by RMS in the project report included the suggestion that the restaurant re-tool the commercials to demonstrate the improvements made in an effort to better meet consumer needs.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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This blog post is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: In Spring 2015, Baldwinsville Central School District (BCSD) partnered with Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a stakeholder community perception study to explore learning concepts and identify the district’s strengths and areas of opportunity.

Approach:  RMS conducted a telephone survey with a random sample of households located in the BCSD, and three focus groups (one group with Board of Education, another with instructors, and the last with parents). To determine perception of the district and identify strengths and areas of opportunity, RMS staff completed 410 telephone surveys with a margin of error of +/-4.8%. Survey and focus group participants were asked questions to determine what the BCSD does best, what makes it unique, how the district compares to other local districts, what influenced the participant’s decision to move to the district, and perception of curriculum concepts.

Results: The RMS team analyzed data from surveys and focus groups to provide the client with a mixed methods picture of community and stakeholder perception of the district. Findings revealed an overall belief that the BCSD is doing well, with 73% of survey respondents stating that the district is better than other area districts. Participants noted the great instructors, quality education, and high performance metrics set BCSD apart from other local districts. There is a perception that the district excels at offering strong special needs and extracurricular programs, encouraging community involvement, keeping parents involved, and providing individual attention to students.

When participants were asked about the perceived value of internships, they suggested that students should be required to complete an internship, but expressed concerns over requiring internships for all students. There was a favorable response to the concept of Pathways and educational program career specialization, but participants also suggested the concept should be optional for students who are not yet ready to make a career decision. Similarly, participants felt students should have more opportunities to earn college credit, but there were mixed reviews of the benefits and drawbacks. Parents were excited about the opportunity for their children to earn college credit in order to reduce college costs, while instructors expressed concern that students would struggle being placed in higher level courses when entering college.

When participants were asked what the BCSD could do to improve, they noted changes to the budget and associated school taxes, eliminating or improving upon the common core, and improving communication. Findings from the market research study provided the BCSD with qualitative and quantitative insight regarding community and stakeholder perception which will be valuable in guiding future strategic decisions.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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The following blog post was written by Karen Joncas, a Healthcare Transformation Coordinator at RMS.


Across the country, health care and community resource providers have joined together to transform our health care delivery systems, reducing the upward cost curve of Medicaid spending while ensuring access to appropriate, quality care. States have been given the opportunity to reinvest federal savings in programs, which at the highest level, are designed to meet the triple aim objectives set by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) of improving population health, improving patient experience of care and reducing per capita cost. One key approach being implemented here in New York State is the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRIP), which specifically targets how healthcare is provided to Medicaid patients.

New York State has structured its DSRIP initiative to promote coordinated community networks of care called Performing Provider Systems (PPS). Performing Provider Systems combine providers of hospital care, primary care and community resources that service a community’s Medicaid population. Each PPS submitted an application to New York State, identifying transformational initiatives based on its Community Needs Assessment, which would meet the primary goal of reducing avoidable hospital care by 25% over five years. This process took place in 2014. Avoidable hospital use includes reducing preventable emergency room use, reducing preventable hospital re-admissions, and focusing on preventive care. Funding for eligible providers is paid throughout the five-year transformation DSRIP program and is based on the PPS’ progress in meeting milestones toward achieving stated goals. At several points over the five-year period of the program, PPS must supply the State with metrics and benchmarks to assess their progress. Now that PPS’ across the country are firmly entrenched in DSRIP, there are additional roles for market research firms to assist in evaluating performance or other assistance in meeting their goals. Specific research roles include community engagement activities and patient experience measurement.

Throughout the DSRIP process, stakeholder and community engagement is critical to the overall success of the program. Stakeholders include 1) patients uninsured or insured by Medicaid, 2) healthcare workers and providers that serve the Medicaid community, 3) representatives from community resource organizations and 4) community residents with commercial health insurance. The processes used to engage these stakeholders include individual in-depth interviews (IDI’s), focus groups, and surveys. One unique way to engage community stakeholders in “real time” is by using a pre-qualified, on-line panel recruited and managed by the market research firm. These methods allow for benchmarking and longitudinal tracking required to report performance against stated goals.

At the conclusion of the DSRIP program, it is expected that the health care delivery system targeting Medicaid patients, as well as ambulatory care, will provide accessible, high quality healthcare in the most appropriate setting and de-emphasize care provided in the hospital. One means of recognizing successful transformation is through receiving National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition (PCMH). PCMH recognized practices proactively engage their patients, including Medicaid covered patients, in achieving the IHI triple aim goals. To that end, it is expected that primary care practices participating in the DSRIP will become PCMH 2014 Level 3 recognized no later than DSRIP’s Year 3.

Another way to incorporate patient experience outcome metrics is through the utilization of the CG-CAHPS survey tool. The survey is administered to patients to assess any disparities in the patient experience of care. Using a certified CMS vendor to administer the survey provides benchmarks and longitudinal change information needed for improving process and optimizing patient experience.

RMS Healthcare, a division of Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) has a successful history of assisting practices in obtaining Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition, and is uniquely qualified to provide assistance to a PPS. For further information on services we can offer to your PPS, please contact us at 1-866-567-5422.

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This article was written by Mark Dengler, President of Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) in Syracuse, NY. It was featured in a prior edition of RMS News.

Focus groups are a tried and true way to engage populations to learn in-depth information about opinions, perceptions, and experiences. They are a form of qualitative research that embraces group interaction to maximize participant responsiveness and allow for in-depth probing. Typically consisting of 4 to 12 people, a focus group utilizes a moderator to lead and interview participants as a group. The result is a great deal of perceptual information that can be used to validate, uncover or help direct further research.

Focus Group Facility in Syracuse NY

Focus Group Facility in Syracuse NY

To be successful, a focus group needs meaningful interaction. During a focus group, the moderator gets the respondents to interact with each other in a way that reveals additional information, so every other respondent can hear and respond to participant comments. The hallmark of the focus group is open-ended group interaction. Respondents can answer in their own words, rather than being forced to give yes or no, multiple choice, or numerical answers. More importantly, people are able to freely react to each others’ responses.

Stimulation is created by the excitement, group support, challenge, new ideas and other features of the interaction. It can provide strategic advantages that often mean the difference between the success or failure of a product or service. There is an almost irresistible pull to say things that they would ordinarily not reveal. Here are some types of interactions you may see in a well-run focus group:

  • Reaction to each others’ comments
  • Drawing each other out
  • Asking questions you didn’t think to ask
  • Building on each others’ ideas
  • Sparking new ideas
  • Jogging each others’ memories
  • Modifying each others’ comments
  • Filling in-completions and gaps in knowledge
  • Nudging each other out of ruts and habitual thinking
  • Taking opposing positions
  • Persuading each other
  • Changing their opinions

As a result of stimulation, you get more information from the group than you could possibly get from any amount of questioning of individuals.

Focus groups are often considered a luxury. People often think, “We don’t have time for that sort of research with our specific pressing problems, and we’re in touch with our customers anyway.” However, what your customers and prospects are telling each other may not be what they are telling you and, in today’s economy, you can’t afford to not know the correct customer perceptions. Your understanding of what the consumer wants must be crystal clear. A skilled focus group moderator can often uncover dissatisfaction and needs that may be deeply buried in a customer’s mind.

Focus Group Syracuse NY

Focus groups, more than any other method, allow for the emergence and pursuit of surprise qualitative information. Agendas can be modified from group to group, and even within groups. Most market research begins with focus group research or some form of qualitative research and may often be followed up with quantitative survey work. Never underestimate or dismiss the immense value received from focus group research. This research modality provides a direct link into the perception and opinions of participants.

Looking for a focus group facility in Syracuse NY? Contact Sandy Baker, the Director of Business Development, at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) offers a focus group facility and is also a full-service market research firm in Syracuse NY. The focus group facility named QualiSight is located on-site is  and is currently the only focus group facility available for qualitative research rentals in the Central New York area. For more information on how to book the focus group facility in Syracuse NY visit the QualiSight website here or email the facility manager at LaurenK@RMSresults.com.

Focus Group Facility and Market Research Firm in Syracuse NY

Our recent ad featured in the 2014 Book of Lists. Click to enlarge.

What do we do At RMS? Very simply – we ask, listen, and solve using superior research and market intelligence. We can help you understand your customers and competitors, respond quickly to market opportunities, formulate effective business strategies, and analyze data to drive your decisions. A few of the market research services we offer in Syracuse NY are surveys, focus groups, mystery shopping, in-depth interviews (IDIs) and data mining.

For more information on these services visit our blog posts below:

Research & Marketing Strategies can be reached by contacting our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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RMS QualiSight is the only focus group facility in the Syracuse area.

The RMS QualiSight focus group facility is located in Syracuse, NY. It offers the convenience of many nearby hotels, restaurants, and local area attractions. The focus group facility is located in Baldwinsville, NY – just outside of the city of Syracuse. Due to its convenient suburb location (close to both the city and the airport), you will have the ability to recruit from all demographics of residents in the area. RMS also offers an on-site call center to program your participation screener, recruit your participants, and host your focus groups.

Features of the QualiSight focus group facility in Syracuse:

  • FocusVision
  • Comfortable observation room
  • Spacious participant focus group room
  • Separate waiting area for participants
  • Attached call center for recruitment and reminder calls
  • The ability to send text reminders to participants
  • Provide participants with video tutorial of focus group facility in Syracuse to increase show-rates
Focus Group Facility Syracuse

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Are you interested in booking the QualiSight focus group facility in Syracuse, NY? Contact our focus group facility manager Lauren Krell at LaurenK@RMSresults.com or by calling 866-567-5422.

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Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) and our QualiSight focus group facility in Syracuse, NY recently completed a video for our website. The focus group video details all aspects of the focus group process at our facility for potential participants from the recruitment call straight through to participation. Click on the YouTube video link below to watch our four-minute video and familiarize yourself with the process. The video is narrated by Sandy Baker, Director of Business Development and was produced by Chris Coville, Senior Research Associate at RMS.

Topics in the QualiSight focus group participant video include:

  • Recruitment through our in-house call center
  • Directions to the focus group facility in Syracuse NY
  • Arrival
  • Sneak peek into the focus group room
  • Sneak peek at the client viewing room
  • Exit

If you are looking for focus group facilities in Syracuse, NY contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. She can discuss your recruiting, moderating, or facility rental needs and pass you a price scope with proposal.

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A previously published post on the RMS Bunker Blog discussed top qualities of a master moderator. The blog post was based on a book written by written by Naomi Henderson from Riva Market Research & Training Institute. That blog post discussed traits 1 through 12, while this blog post will serve as a part two, addressing moderator traits 13 through 25.

focus group moderator ny

Here is the second set of master moderator traits:

13. Handles diverse opinions. When you get a group of 4 to 12 people, opinions will vary. A moderator needs to be able to promote discussion among a variety of focus group participant personalities.

14. Remains flexible. 

15. Conducts linking and logic tracking. A strong moderator can analyze the discussion as it takes place and think about pertinent follow-up lines of questions.

16.Uses a variety of techniques. Keep the focus group participants engaged and fresh.

17. Uses interventions.

18. Uses sophisticated naivete (wisdom). Draw from findings in past groups, or from findings earlier in the same group.

19. Comfortable with uncertainty. The entire group will not go as planned, a good moderator is okay with “off-the-cuff” questions.

20. Thinks rapidly and makes appropriate decisions. There are several curve-balls in every single focus group. A good moderator can adjust on-the-fly.

21.Utilizes other paradigms.

22. Allows spontaneity in group process. Some of the most rich discussion in a focus group wasn’t expected or listed in the moderator’s preparation guide. Allow for it, see where it takes you if time allows.

23.Uses accurate language and paraphrases.

24. Analyzes qualitative data.

25. Remains human, not mechanical. If you are going to moderate a focus group, have fun with it. I enjoy dabbling in a little sarcasm or joke here and there just to keep the participants on their toes. Because after hours of prep time, late hours into the night at the facility and multiple cups of coffee, you have to find fun in the process.

Looking for a focus group moderator in NY? Contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. RMS has several trained focus group and in-depth interview (IDI) moderators on-staff to assist with your market research.

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