August 22, 2022 Qualitative Research

How It All Got Started

Focus Groups are a time tested and proven methodology to gain insights and help support choices and decisions. Before many products and services hit the market, they are often discussed and reviewed by focus group participants and market researchers.  What began as a simple process is now a multibillion dollar industry to help brands thrive.

The roots of focus groups are traced back to a US Office of War information program in the 1920s. Then, in the 1940s, Robert Merton tested a process where radio groups would hit a red or green button to indicate a positive or negative view.  The approach was used to examine the impact of media on attitudes about the involvement of the US in World War 2.  After Merton published research in the 1980s, research groups really gained popularity, were adopted by sociologists and became more mainstream.  Once America entered the 1990s, campaign strategists started making political polling and focus groups integral to campaign strategies. In the Clinton campaign, focus groups identified the swing voters as “soccer moms.”

Today, new technology, such as online communities, bulletin boards, and online ethnography expand upon focus groups and often paint a bigger picture, so researchers can gain even greater insights as part of a well-rounded consumer story.

Focus Forward has expertly recruited respondents for all types of qualitative research since 2003. The industry constantly evolves and so do our methods and ways that we support global field teams with complimentary services like transcription, open end coding, online community recruitment, translation and more. Contact us to learn more about how our recruitment services can help.