Research methods: Focus Groups

Our focus group research involves structured discussion with small groups of participants.

Highly experienced in focus group moderation and commercially minded, our qualitative team will work with you to design a focused but flexible discussion guide.

Our staff are trained to glean as much information as possible about their perceptions and expectations. They make sure that there’s enough group interaction for individuals to discuss and debate their ideas by comparing them with those of the other participants.

We’re also experts in setting-up online focus groups and qual – ideal for when it’s difficult to recruit respondents for face-to-face research. We use our online panel to recruit from, and adopt best-in-class software solutions to match project requirements.

DRG has several trained qualitative moderators, including an experienced children’s moderator. They regularly conduct traditional focus groups, depth interviews, friendship pairs, or research with family groups. We can also cater for recruitment, venue hire and transcripts, as well as full reporting.

Meet the team

Eleanor Finnon is DRG’s Research Director with over 20 years of market research experience and specialises in blending qualitative and quantitative techniques to deliver award-winning research. She has worked on global and domestic projects, from brand health and product testing to campaign effectiveness and bespoke market understanding studies. Before joining DRG, she worked as an Associate Client Service Director for IPSOS and managed key accounts for a Global FMCG company. Connect with Eleanor on LinkedIn!


Rita Brophy joined DRG in March 2022 as Head of Qualitative Research. She has over 20 years of market research experience and specialises in qualitative explorations and strategic insight. Rita draws on her broad experience of using creative projective & enabling techniques to uncover rich insight from research participants within various research approaches including individual interviews, focus groups, concept labs & ideation workshops. Rita has a BSc Hons Sociology & Social Research, an MA in Marketing, is a Board Member of the European Social Marketing Association and was awarded an honorary MRS Fellowship. Connect with Rita on LinkedIn!

If you need a qualitative research agency that can help you with focus groups, in-depths, day-in-the-life, ethnography, or anything else, please get in touch.

How do we invite people to attend?

We have an experienced team of MRS trained qualitative recruiters who will be briefed on a project and sent a recruitment questionnaire designed by the lead researcher. This will ensure those recruited meet the specified criteria and a spread of demographics is achieved.

We are also able to recruit people though our in-house panel Panelbase, which has over 370,000 UK members, and profiled on over 800 fields.

Participants are contacted with a courtesy phone call from our Operations Team. We have extremely good attendance and participation at our groups due to our high standard of recruitment. In order to encourage participation and show respondents we value their feedback and time group participants are incentivised.

What happens at the focus groups?

Focus groups will be designed to last for an agreed amount of time e.g. 90 minutes and will be moderated by one of our experienced MRS trained, qualitative researchers.

We normally recommend 8- 10 participants per group; we feel this is the optimum number of participants for most groups, generating healthy discussion while not being overwhelming. However, certain topics and demographics may benefit from less or more participants; we would recommend specific numbers as part of our comprehensive proposal.

Groups will be held at a time to maximise attendance and will be held at a central venue such as a conference room in a hotel. The groups are digitally recorded and transcribed to aid report writing.

Why a DRG focus group?

It starts with a great discussion guide

We’re experienced in running focus groups and understand variety and high engagement levels are key to their success. We will therefore design a discussion guide to ensure conversation stays focused and research objectives are covered while allowing discussion to evolve based on respondent answers. We will work closely with the client to design the guide and the final document will be signed off prior to the focus groups being held.

Engaging, interactive activities

As well as generating open discussion, we will incorporate a variety of individual, pair or group activities. These could include a variety of projective techniques such as visualisation and association tasks, magazine tears, wordboards or thought starters with quotes and flashcards and would be chosen upon project set up. Such techniques not only delve deeper into subconscious attitudes and instinctive choices but also increase engagement, energy and enthusiasm.

Creative testing

Exercises may include:

  • Open discussion of creatives –wording, phrasing, tone, format, style, imagery, platform
  • Scoring/voting exercises
  • Mix and match exercises – imagery, words and phrases from the creatives mixed/replaced to generate optimum discussion about communication preferences and examples of good communication formats and channels which have really caught attention / stuck in mind

Compelling discussion and debate

Our focus groups aim to bring insights to life by allowing participants to express themselves in their own words. By creating a relaxing environment, moderators encourage participation from all group members, lively discussion and debate. Understanding the language and imagery consumers naturally use and respond to can be extremely beneficial to marketing and communications teams.

MRS trained moderators

Our moderators are all MRS trained and have a wealth of experience in moderating qualitative research. Your moderator will be part of the core research team, ensuring they are fully knowledgeable and aligned with the research objectives of the project.

Insightful feedback

As well as a comprehensive report delving into the insights obtained from the groups, the lead researcher will present the results back to the client at a debrief meeting. This will bring the results to life and allow for an open discussion around recommendations and future steps.


DRG offer a flexible and bespoke approach to reporting, working closely with our clients to ensure the outputs of the research will be durable, valuable and useful. Our qualitative reports focus on actionable themes, insights and conclusions. We find the stories in the data to develop bespoke recommendations to ensure our reports are stimulating, thought-provoking and clearly and immediately relevant to the development of your new marketing creatives and products.

Want to know more? Submit an enquiry using the form or call us on 01434 611160 and a member of the team will be in touch.

Enter your details to submit an enquiry.

“When researching product placement for Big Brother they used some new more innovative methodologies including eye tracking and neuroscience which enabled us to gain a detailed insight into the effectiveness of the campaign. Their understanding of TV research and the team’s enthusiasm and professionalism are invaluable and I have no hesitation in recommending their services to others.”

Head of Planning & Insight | Channel 5