In an earlier article we discussed the major differences between focus groups and face-to-face interviews. Today we’d like to compare both methodologies and discuss their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Focus groups
Focus groups are especially suited when you want to confirm your analysis with a wide variety of consumers’ profiles. Focus groups are indeed the best way to exchange viewpoints and discuss disagreements between consumers. This dynamics will not be captured in face-to-face interview. In addition focus groups may be less expensive than interviews, provided the analytical treatment remains light. Most market research institutes have indeed removed the costly part of the process (i.e. transcriptions and coding)
Advantages of qualitative interviews
An interview will allow you to go much deeper, in particular thanks to a longer speaking time. More insights are likely to be collected, which will be useful for a later quantitative phase.
Last but not least, the role of the interviewer is usually less important in interviews than in focus groups; the expected bias, if an interviewing guide has been well prepared, will therefore be lower too.
Disadvantages of focus groups
Whereas focus groups are easy to organize with consumers, they are much more challenging in a B2B context. Have you ever tried to get 8 or 10 busy professionals around one table outside of business hours?
Whatever the setting, the role of the moderator is key to make people speak and interact. The risk to fail is considerably higher than when you follow a well-prepared interview guide.
Disadvantages of face-to-face interviews
The logistics side of the interviews is complicated, especially if you have to travel meet the interviewees. Moreover, analyzing all interviews requires skills (and tools) that are neither easy nor cheap to acquire.
A summary of Pro’s and Con’s (Focus groups vs. interviews)