3 Best Practices to Run Focus Groups in Fashion Business Research

3 Best Practices to Run Focus Groups in Fashion Business Research

Focus groups are extremely useful tools to conduct research for your business. 

In a focus group, a brand is able to foster an engaged conversion with its customers and explore new opportunities and ideas to build a stronger brand. 

With a focus group, you can test the perception of your brand, you can pre-test an advertising message or commercial, you can ask about customers’ needs as you launch a new product. Overall a focus group is an extremely versatile tool. 

At the same time, focus groups as a research approach can provide some challenges. First and foremost, it is time-consuming and expensive to run, as opposed to other types of research approaches. 

Moreover, unless you carefully design and manage the focus groups carefully you may end up wasting a lot of time and money. 

This is why, in this post, we’re providing 3 best practices we advise you to follow as you’re setting up a focus group for your fashion brand. 

#1 Profile Your Audience

The starting point of a good focus group is identifying the right type of participant for your project.

Spend time figuring out who are the types of customers that can really help you understand the problem you’re trying to solve. What is the need you’re looking to fulfill through your business? Who is able to appreciate the value that your brand is bringing to the market the most?

Look at the data your brand has available from loyalty cards, returning customers, newsletter subscribers, and so forth. We know that usually 80% of revenue is brought to your company by 20% of its customers. Could that 20% be the perfect audience to involve in your study?

If you’re able to connect to engaged and interested customers, you’ll be able not only to make use of their extensive experience with their brand but also to give them a chance to engage and co-create value with you. This makes the experience twice as useful: it becomes a great research project while providing a meaningful and memorable experience to your loyal customers.

Use data you have available or come up with a new segmentation approach if necessary, but make sure you’re investing your time with customers and participants that can contribute and can provide informed opinions to your conversation. The higher quality input you get in your group, the higher quality output you’ll be able to collect. 

Once you have identified the right candidates, it may be helpful to work a little bit on motivation, by providing them with some incentives. 

That’s what we’re going to discuss in the next section of our post.

#2 Provide Incentives

People’s time is valuable, and if you want to make sure that your participants are taking seriously the commitment to the focus group it’s important to give them something back. 

It may not be necessary to pay them money, but it would be great to give back something which has value. A common form of payment is petrol coupons or gift certificates. 

It may be helpful to give your participants something that connects them to your company, such as an accessory or a goodie bag. 

The more relevant and useful your incentive is, the better performance you can expect from your participants. In a way, participating in research is almost a part-time job. 

One element to take into account however is participant bias. 

Don’t exaggerate. If the reward is too much, your participants may overcompensate by becoming yes men, and not giving you honest opinions. 

At the end of the day, we need to remember that this is not only market research, it is also a branding experience, one that will leave your customers with a long-lasting impression of you and your company. 

Because of this, we need to spend extra care in making sure your participants’ experience is as fun and memorable as possible. 

In order to do this, it’s important to manage the time you have together in the most effective and engaging way possible. 

This is what we’re discussing next in the next section of our post.

#3 Create Structured and Well-Paced Activities

If you want to make use of the time efficiently, then it’s a good idea to time them and make sure you’re always conducting structured activities.

Over the span of 2 hours, for instance, you can arrange as many as 6 to 8 activities, which can last 15 to 20 minutes each. 

Let’s see why this is important.

Have Multiple Activities

Conducting multiple, time-constrained activities is important for a variety of reasons:

  • It will allow your participants to stay engaged. As the quick pace of the activities will not get them bored.
  • It will allow you to test different types of data collection strategies, and see if your results are consistent and valid.
  • It will allow you to connect with different participants over different types of activities. Some participants may be more auditory, some more visual, and some more kinesthetic. By testing different approaches you can put everyone in the position to contribute to the conversations following their own preferred communication format.

Have Multiple Showrunners

In order to keep the participant engaged, it may be helpful to have different activities being carried out by multiple researchers. 

The personal style and approach to the group will change with every “moderator” or researcher.

As you’re addressing an audience usually comprised of 8 to 12 participants, it can be helpful to have multiple “showrunners” so that each person, based on personal affinity or empathy can find him\herself more at ease with the attitude and energy of the researcher and contribute more honestly to the conversation.

These are not small details, the particular touch and atmosphere you are able to create in the room is the most impacting element on the outcome of your focus group.

There you have it. In this post, we discussed 3 simple pieces of advice to follow to make sure you are running effective and successful focus groups. 

Now that we’ve covered all the bases, it’s time to draw some conclusive remarks.


There you have it. In this post, we explored 3 best practices we advise you to follow if you want to run a successful and productive focus group for your fashion brand. 

In our blog, you can find a wealth of additional information on how to conduct productive market research. 

In this post for instance we discuss how your fashion brand should approach market research for international expansion. 

In this article, instead, we provide some helpful guidelines connected to developing questionnaires and surveys to get a pulse of your customers’ expectations and demands.

Finally, in this article, we discuss some of the challenges connected to collecting and interpreting data, by looking at the most common data processing mistakes and how to counter them.

Don’t hesitate to explore our blog further to learn more about fashion business research. Enjoy!

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3 Best Practices to Run Focus Groups in Fashion Business Research In this post, we're looking at 3 best practices to follow to run effective and engaging focus groups. Enjoy!
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