Whether your focus group is there to provide feedback on a product or service, or to assess how your brand stands out in your competitive landscape, thought-provoking, open-ended questions are essential for a productive discussion.
However, it is easier said than done. What can you say about “What do you think of our product?” that can provoke the most useful answers?
Here we have compiled 53 questions to ask in your next focus group to get the most interesting and useful insights from your attendees.
Just copy and paste the following questions into the note-taking for a ready-to-use, printable document to bring to the meeting.
Recommended Resource: Research Focus Group Template
Download the template
Download our research kit for a free focus group note template, guide to conducting market research, and several other templates.
Questions about building trust among members of the focus group
Before delving into any deeper questions, consider warming up the group with a few open-ended questions so the participants can get to know each other a little. Participants should be able to choose how much they want to share with the group – don’t force anyone to share something they may not want to share.
By including a question that participants can use to talk about something that is relevant to the focus group’s topic, your participants begin to build empathy for one another. That empathy can turn into trust, which is key to getting honest insights from your group.
Here are some questions you might ask to help build trust:
- Share an aspect of your work or life experience that brought you here today.
- Why did you choose our focus group today?
- When and how did you first come across our brand / product / service?
Questions to encourage follow-up and continuation of ideas
The most helpful insights from focus groups are often the most specific points. When they hear something they are curious about, encourage your participants to think more about the points they made. For example:
- That’s a fascinating point [name] just said – what do you all think of it?
- Do you agree or disagree? [name]and why?
- [Name]You’ve been a little quiet lately. Did you have thoughts on the subject that you wanted to share?
Questions to understand how customers perceive your product or service
These questions will help you understand how people really think about your brand, product, or service. The focus here is on your company – not on the larger industry landscape or your competitors.
Avoid ending the conversation here unless the group becomes completely distracted. Open-ended questions can be daunting at first. Participants may not know where to start. However, when you hear from the other attendees, you will be thinking about different aspects of your product or service. Make sure any group member who has something to say has the floor before you move on to the next question.
- How would you describe our company to other people?
- How would you describe our product / service to other people?
- What words or feelings come to mind when you think of our company?
- How likely are you to recommend our product / service to a friend?
- How well do you think we incorporate feedback from you, our customers, into our service / product?
- What ultimately made you buy this product / service?
- Where would you buy this product / service?
- What do you like about this product that you may not find in a similar product?
- When you think of our industry, which brands come to mind first?
- What other brands in our industry did you consider while shopping?
- Why didn’t you go with one of our competitors?
- What other products / services come to mind when you look at these?
Ask to learn what your leads and customers want to see from you
Listening to your customers’ feedback and suggestions for improvement is critical to retaining customers and turning them into promoters of your brand. It might be difficult to hear the answers to these questions, but reversing customer weaknesses will take your product or service to the next level.
Avoid defending your product or service or narrowing these questions down. Instead, frame them so that everyone can say something about what they feel. Realize that sharing negative feedback can be daunting for anyone (especially those you have developed relationships with). Thank you for your openness.
- If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about our product / service, what would it be?
- What would you most like to add to or improve on this product?
- What do you think is the life of this product / service before upgrading or replacing it?
- Is there anything we didn’t address today that we should know?
Questions to understand your buyer personalities
The following eight questions will help you understand what motivates your target buyer personality, their habits, their responsibilities and decision-making powers, and their preferences.
These questions are written to stimulate discussion about topics other than your company, product or service, and the competitive landscape.
Don’t worry if the conversation seems far from your brand as the insights people end up sharing are likely to show what matters to them in their life and work. However, it is important that you focus the group on the specific question you asked.
- Describe your job title and your daily responsibilities.
- What is a task that you feel you are spending way too much time on?
- How do you define success in your role / your life?
- What is the greatest challenge in your role / when it comes to the problem for which this product is a solution?
- What websites do you spend most of your time browsing online?
- What are the first three apps you open on your phone in the morning?
- How would you prefer to receive communications from our company? (Indicate here what type of communication you’d like to have – product updates, renewal notifications, product / service coaching, meeting reminders, urgent alerts, etc.)
- Would you be the one who uses this product / service the most in your household / job? If not, who would it be?
Questions to get a better feel for the competitive landscape
These questions are designed to stimulate discussion about the brands in your industry that are most important to consumers. These are helpful in eliminating any prejudices you and your team may have as people who work in the industry and know different stakeholders very well.
Avoid agreeing to derogatory comments from your attendees on your competitors to encourage honesty. Instead, take the opportunity to ask more questions about what people don’t like about a particular product or brand.
If you’d like to conduct a supplemental research-based analysis of your competitors, download our market research kit to get access to a SWOT analysis template.
Download the template
Questions about generating content in your industry
You may want to develop a content strategy for your brand, branch into a new content medium, or simply generate new content ideas. Any successful content strategy prioritizes what is most interesting and interesting for your target buyer personality. A focus group can therefore be an effective way to ensure that you are producing material on the right topics and in the medium that your target audience wants to consume.
- What is a current trend that you noticed in our industry?
- In your opinion, which strategy or tactic is underestimated in our industry?
- Where do you go to find out about what’s going on in our industry?
- Who are the people in our industry that you see as experts?
- What format of content are you consuming to keep up with our industry? Social media posts? Blogs / long-form posts? Podcasts? News agencies?
- What specific sources do you contact for information about our industry?
- What gaps do you see in the content about our online industry? What are the topics that you would like to see more education on?
Questions to understand the product demand for something you haven’t brought to market yet
These eleven questions should help you understand the demand for a new product or service. These questions reveal buying habits for a product like the one you envision and whether there is a real fit for the product market.
- What is / was your first reaction to the product?
- How often would / would you use this type of product?
- Would you choose to purchase this product / service? If not, who would it be?
- When and where do you use our product?
- When you think of the product, do you think that it is something that you absolutely need, that you can do without, or that is somewhere in the middle?
- How much would you be willing to pay for such a product?
- How would you ideally like to buy this product? Would you speak to a sales rep or would you prefer to buy it yourself?
- What do you think is missing from this product?
- How would you describe someone who you think would use this product / service?
- If you liked your experience with this product, could you consider buying it back? If so, how often?
- If you could have either this product / service or its dollar value equivalent for you / your business, which one would you choose? Why? (Include the dollar value of your product / service when asking this question.)
Questions about setting up (or restoring) your name and brand
The following questions are helpful in brainstorming word association and generating potential names or parts of names for a new product or company.
- What words come to mind when you think of our product category? (Example: “What words come to mind when you think about the delivery of groceries?”)
- What words come to mind when you think about it [insert a word that symbolizes the main value prop of your product/service here – for example, ‘efficiency,’ ‘speed,’ ‘health’]?
- If you already have candidate names:
- How do you react to this name initially?
- What words come to mind when you hear this name?
- How would you pronounce that? (Write the name on a piece of paper or a whiteboard.)
And there you have it! 53 questions to ask in your next focus group. If you’re unsure how to run a successful focus group, see How to Run a Focus Group For Your Business.