Focus Groups

Focus groups are a group discussion, typically among 8-10 people, led by a moderator. The moderator will raise open-ended topics and invite the participants to share their thoughts as part of the group discussion. The goal is to have the participants do most of the talking, the moderator ensures that all topics are covered, responses are probed adequately to ensure an understanding of “root” beliefs and all participants receive roughly equal “airtime.” Optimization Group focus groups are unique in two ways: the use of projective techniques to draw insights out of consumers and the use of Computational Linguistics to process the feedback. Each is covered below.

Projective Techniques

When you ask a rational person a rational question you get a rational answer. Because of this dynamic, Optimization Group uses projective techniques such as collages, role playing and/or personification, which are designed to make it easier for respondents to tap into and articulate the more emotional aspects of their reasoning.

Collages: Respondents may be asked to cut words and images from magazines that capture what the brand/product/service means to them. They build a collage and the center of the collage represents the essence of the brand or product. They are asked to explain the significance of each word/image in the collage and it is the explanation that creates the insights.

Role playing: The group is divided into two – an imagined user group and non-user group. The user-group is charged with convincing the non-user group of the value of the brand/product/service. The language used to persuade can be very insightful.

Personification: Respondents are asked to think of the brand as a person with human characteristics. They are given a list of personality traits and asked to circle those that best describe their view of the brand.

Using Computational Linguistics to Add Value

Customers are great sources of information. The feedback they provide and the language they use is often rich, insightful and relevant. However, turning that feedback into actionable, measurable marketing objectives can be difficult. What’s more, each analyst can interpret customer feedback differently, resulting in inconsistent results.

Computational Linguistics (CL) is a set of tools and processes that resolves these issues and delivers feedback in a consistent, quantifiable, actionable way. CL combines knowledge from language experts and computer scientists to provide an objective, quantitative measure of the language used by customers and other key influencers. By making language quantitative, action steps can be implemented and measured to drive success.


HyperResearch is a text analysis tool for evaluating and interpreting what people actually said in focus groups- not what a moderator “thinks” they heard. By indexing the content of focus groups, links between the main ideas and supporting themes can be defined. One of the key advantages of HyperResearch is its flexibility; data can be collected in one-on-one interviews, focus groups, online chats or even live events. HyperResearch also provides hard data quickly in an uncomplicated format.

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