webcam focus group

4 Right Times to Conduct a Webcam Focus Group

The Summer 2011 edition of QRCA Views contains an article by our very own Tara Chambers (aka Tara Smith) titled, “When is the Best Time to Conduct Webcam Focus Groups?”

Tara identifies four “right times” in her article and provides case studies with each one. Here is a brief overview:

  1. To meet tight timelines. The pace of decision-making continues to increase; therefore, time pressure on researchers continues to increase as well. Using webcam interviewing eliminates travel while gaining geographic diversity. This benefit is becoming even more accessible with ever-faster recruiting capabilities available from 20|20 and other national recruiting organizations.
  2. To interview respondents in their natural setting. Using webcams allows the researcher into the respondent’s home or office. This access can be very beneficial for product discussions and other uses when the researcher wants to see the respondent demonstrate a product or show competitive products in the environment.
  3. To tightly control shared stimuli. The webcam stimuli software ensures that each respondent views each piece of stimuli in the same way.  This consistency can eliminate some uncertainty in respondents’ reactions to ads, packaging or concepts.
  4. To schedule low incidence populations. The web is a great way to reach low-incidence populations because geography is not an issue; respondents can be from anywhere.  The methodology is also helpful when dealing with difficult to recruit populations (CEOs, doctors, plumbers, etc.) because they do not have to come to a central location and their interview can be fit into a convenient slot in the interview schedule.

Like all other methodologies, webcam interviews are not right for every project. However, the method does provide many advantages in the right context.  As more people have computers with webcams and get more comfortable using them, webcam focus groups and in-depth interviews will continue their rapid growth rate in our industry.

Simple Ways to Stretch Your Research Dollars

Sure the market research industry is rebounding, but companies—including your clients—are still going to be looking for ways to run leaner. Make working with you a no-brainer with these simple ways to stretch your research dollars. The original article by Ken Zeldis and Amy Rey of Pennington, N.J.-based Zeldis Research Associates appeared in a recent issue of Quirk’s email newsletter. Here we highlight some of their ideas:

  • Consider online qualitative research: Would a bulletin board focus group work just as well as (or better than) an in-person focus group? You bet. You’ll save on travel costs—and time—and you’ll be impressed with richer, more in-depth responses from your participants. Before going the traditional route, check to see if your research can be conducted online with a bulletin board focus group, webcam focus group, online journaling or other online research software.
  • Reduce cost at the margin: You’ve probably noticed that participation is higher in slower economic times—that’s because those incentives mean more to your participants. Zeldis and Rey suggest looking for the low-hanging costs—like participants. If you think you’ll get 100 percent participation, recruit 12 instead of 15. Which leads us to the next tip…
  • Increase response rates: Zeldis and Rey say they see participation increase 50 percent when the study is sponsored by the client. Consider going this route, provided you don’t think it will create biased results. They also say touching base with participants beforehand and letting them know you’re looking forward to the study can increase response rates.

Find more tips to increase response rates and engagement in the Resources section at

Are They Respondents or Participants?

What do we call those wonderful people who share their life story, their dreams and their failures with us? For most of my career, I have referred to them generically as “respondents.”  In fact, “respondents” has been a pretty universal term for these kind folks.

But over the past couple of years, I have begun to question that terminology. It seems to be a holdover from quantitative research where a researcher poses a question and the subject dutifully “responds” accordingly. This imagery seems somehow appropriate for quantitative survey research but strangely inappropriate for qualitative research.

In qualitative research, we engage in dialogue rather than a structured question-response format. In this limited sense, I suppose, “respondent” has always been a bit of a misnomer.

In today’s world of online qualitative research and the exploding array of methods available to us, the subjects are becoming more and more active. Nowadays, we typically ask them to have a dialogue with us over some period of time using a bulletin board focus group, webcam focus group or in doing mobile qualitative research. More than ever, we are even less likely to ask these research subjects to simply respond; we are much more likely to ask them to participate fully in research, which reveals much more about them than simple responses to a survey.

Finally, acknowledging our research subjects as “participants” is much more gratifying and respectful of them than referring to them as merely “respondents.” Pavlov’s dog was a respondent in the purest sense. These people who sometimes bare their souls should be considered something better. As for me, I’ll call them “participants.”  What about you? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Using Online Qualitative to Connect With Physicians

Physicians are notoriously difficult to recruit and interview, which makes sense. Like CEOs, they’re a busy bunch. But they’re also an important bunch. So what do you do to reach this key group? As Jim Bryson explains in the September 2010 issue of MRA Alert! Magazine, use online qualitative tools. Online research software offers several benefits over in-person focus groups and IDIs, including:

• A wider geographical reach: Online is not location specific, so you don’t have to worry if your three regular doctors can come to your Miami focus group facility, for example.

• Good for hectic schedules: How many doctors do you know with 90 minutes in the middle of their day for an IDI? Besides those three who show up at your Miami focus group facility time after time? Not many. Online qualitative research, on the other hand, is available whenever the physician is–3 a.m., even.

The article details two ways to connect with physicians online — through a webcam focus group and a bulletin board focus group. The complete article is posted on our website (click to read), or can be downloaded as a PDF (click to download).

Photo credit: Rosmary

Is the “Online Focus Group” Changing?

Have you noticed that the meaning of the term “online focus group” is changing?
Online Focus Group.png
When we started doing online qualitative research in 2000, there were two basic types — the bulletin board focus group and the online focus group. At that time, the online focus group was clearly defined as real-time, text-chat focus groups. The definition was clear and unambiguous.

Today, the term is evolving and creating confusion. Though one online moderator might use the term online focus group in the context of a text-chat focus group, another online moderator might use the term to refer to a webcam focus group. 

Today, the only consistency in the term “online focus group” is that the speaker is referring to a virtual focus group in real time. So, the next time someone asks you about an online focus group, you might want to ask for a bit more information before moving forward.

3 Keys to Successful Online Concept Testing

Online concept testing shares many similarities with face-to-face testing– from the way they’re recruited to the type of concepts shown to participants. Going online also boasts many advantages over face-to-face: You can test more concepts before worrying about burnout, the format works well with iterative concept development and you can test multiple groups simultaneously, not to mention the fact that it’s usually cheaper and faster.

But online concept testing isn’t foolproof. At 20|20 Research, we’ve helped hundreds of clients execute online concept testing projects using QualMeeting, our webcam focus group software, and QualBoard, our bulletin board focus group software, and we’ve learned a lot about what can make or break an online concept testing project. Here are three keys to successful online concept testing:   

1. Have concepts ready and test them first. It’s better to delay your online focus group than show up with no concept or one that doesn’t render correctly for participants.

2. Create professional concepts. Typos and sloppy concepts scream “I didn’t work very hard on this” to your participants. If it’s clear your team didn’t put much effort into the concepts, your participants won’t put much effort in their feedback to you.

3. Consider burnout. With online testing, you can show more concepts than F2F–but not that many more. Keep burnout at bay by limiting your concepts to five or fewer each day. If you have more concepts, it’s better to test across smaller groups than one large one.

Find more keys to successful online concept testing at

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