Whether your focus group is there to give feedback on a product or service or help you assess how your brand stands out in your competitive landscape, thought-provoking, open-ended questions are essential to a productive discussion.
However, it’s easier said than done. What can you ask beyond “What do you think of our product?” that can provoke the most useful answers?
Here, we’ve pulled together 53 questions you can ask in your next focus group to pull the most interesting and useful insights you can out of your participants.
Simply copy-and-paste the questions you like below into the notetaking template for a ready-to-go, printable document you can bring to the session.
Featured Resource: Market Research Focus Group Template
For a free template for notetaking during focus groups, a guide on conducting market research, and several other templates, download our Market Research Kit.
Before diving into deeper questions, it’s best to warm up the group with a couple of open-ended questions that allow participants to get to know each other a little bit. Participants should be able to decide how much they want to share with the group — don’t force anyone to share something they may not feel comfortable sharing.
By including a question that allows people to talk about something tangential to the topic of the focus group, your participants will begin to build empathy for each other. That empathy can grow into trust, which is key for eliciting honest insights out of your group.
Here are a few questions you might ask to build trust:
The most helpful insights that come out of focus groups are often the most specific points. Challenge your participants to reflect more on the points they’ve made if you hear something that you’re curious about. For instance:
These questions will help you understand how people truly feel about your brand, product, or service. The focus here is on your company — not the larger industry landscape or your competitors.
Avoid stopping conversation here unless the group gets completely sidetracked. Open-ended questions can be daunting at first. Participants may not know where to start. However, hearing from the other participants will spark reflection on various aspects of your product or service. Be sure to allow each group member who has something to say to speak up before moving on to the next question.
Listening to your customers’ feedback and suggestions for improvement is crucial to retaining customers and turning them into promoters of your brand. It may be difficult to hear the answers to these questions, but turning customer pain points around will elevate your product or service to the next level.
Avoid defending your product or service or setting any limitations on these questions. Instead, frame them in a way that allows anyone to voice anything at all that they’re feeling. Recognize that it can be daunting for anyone (especially people with whom you’ve built relationships) to share negative feedback, so thank them for their candor.
The following eight questions will help you understand what motivates your target buyer persona, their habits, their responsibilities and decision-making power, and their preferences.
These questions are written to spark discussion about topics other than your company, product or service, and the competitive landscape.
Don’t worry if the conversation seems to stray far from your brand, as the insights that people end up sharing will likely reveal what’s significant to them in their life and work. However, it’s important you keep the group focused on the specific question you’ve asked.
These questions are intended to spark discussion about the brands in your industry that are top-of-mind for consumers. These are helpful in removing any biases that you and your team might have as people who work in the industry and know various players very well.
To encourage honesty, avoid agreeing with any disparaging comments that your participants make about your competitors. Instead, use the opportunity to ask follow-up questions about exactly what the participants don’t like about a specific product or brand.
If you’re looking to do a complementary research-based analysis of your competitors, download our Market Research Kit to gain access to a S.W.O.T. analysis template.
You might be looking to develop a content strategy for your brand, branch out into a new content medium, or simply generate new content ideas. Any successful content strategy prioritizes what’s most engaging and interesting for your target buyer persona, so a focus group can be an effective way to be sure that you’re producing material on the right topics and in the medium that your audience wants to consume.
These eleven questions are intended to help you understand the demand for a new product or service. These questions will uncover buying habits for a product like the one you’re envisioning and whether there’s true product-market fit.
The following questions are helpful for running word association brainstorms and generating potential names or parts of names for a new product or company.
And there you have it! 53 questions you can ask in your next focus group. If you’re unsure how to conduct a successful focus group, take a look at How to Run a Focus Group for Your Business.