Focus Group Briefing Guide

Focus Group How to Guide: A Latimer Appleby Useful Guide

The brief is the cornerstone of all research. It need not be a lengthy piece of work but there should be a written document to ensure that everyone is clear what they are expecting from the work. Of course if you don’t have a written brief, after talking to you, Latimer Appleby will write one for you, which you can then sign off.

Whilst not comprehensive, the following ‘headlines’ should be considered, and, just like this focus group how to guide, proves the brief really can be short and sweet.

Purpose of the research

  • Why are you considering using market research?
  • What hypotheses do you have about your business?
  • What questions are you hoping to get answered?

Think about who exactly will want access to the information provided, but also give consideration to how the results will be used within your organisation.


Map out the specific topics that need to be covered; in short, be clear on just what it is you want to find out.

Target group profiles

Ideally the target groups should be as tightly defined as possible, and some thought given as to where these people might be found and recruited.
Sometimes Latimer Appleby is faced with the challenge of finding non-users. Non-users of a new or a niche brand may be very easy to find. They may represent a potentially large segment, and one which we can target. Sometimes this is not the case. For example, we are regularly asked by shopping centre clients to find non-users of their scheme. Bearing in mind that the centre itself may have existed for many years and may dominate the town centre, the chance of finding non-users i.e. ‘never used’ may be the market research equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack. In this type of scenario, it is perhaps better to focus on lapsed users. That is hose that have used your product or service in the past but have decided to no longer to do so.  They are an incredibly rich source data, which will throw light on aspects of your proposition that you may choose to focus some attention.

Especially in these challenging times, where sales are all important, every participant in a focus group with an opinion, based on their experience of your product or service, has a valid insight into the performance of your brand and may be more helpful than you think.


How do you want or need to receive the findings? The options are many. Would you prefer a ‘book of the film’ approach? A presentation format? An executive summary report? The full blow by blow transcript of the focus group? A video of the groups from start to end? Or perhaps a combination of all the the above?

Two key points to consider are:

  • With whom do you want to share the results? (Perhaps, different formats for different areas of your organisation may be appropriate).
  • How do you envisage the results will actually be used?

Latimer Appleby will be pleased to advise you on the most appropriate format. Through tracking client feedback, we know that the way in which the results are presented is vital. It can significantly impact the effectiveness of the research findings in helping the organisation to improve the customer experience.


Not forgetting of course to be clear just when feedback is actually needed.

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