We wanted to get the real dirt on focus groups (without spoiling client confidentiality of course), so we reached out to our recruiting partner, Heidi, who gave us the lowdown.  We asked a few questions. . .

CR – What was your most interesting focus group? 

Heidi – The most interesting focus group involved women who had bariatric surgery in the past, as these groups turned more emotional than typical focus groups.  It was very interesting hearing these women’s struggles, motivations, and successes, and the resulting impact on their lives.

CR – What were the weirdest set of needs for recruits?

Heidi – The oddest requirements I ever worked with were higher level directors who drove forklifts as part of their job requirements.  That is just an anomaly in itself.

CR – What is the benefit of a face-to-face interview over online questionnaires?

Heidi – Face to face interviews, whether one on one, or in a focus group have great benefits compared to online studies.  Moderators are able to build a rapport with those they interview, which leads to more honest responses.  Respondents are specifically part of a targeted market, so there is a greater connection to these potential consumers, and therefore more valuable information attained from these sessions.  Additionally, respondents will give their undivided attention to the moderator during a focus group, while online studies are completed on phones with respondents generally distracting or multi tasking.  Furthermore, moderators/clients  can observe respondents’ emotions, feelings, perceptions, body language, facial responses, etc., which can be further probed for more in-depth information.  Overall, face to face interviews are a much better choice for gathering more personal information from respondents than online studies.

CR – What is the most bizarre product you recruited a group for that never made it to market?

Heidi – The most bizarre product I had to recruit was for a study on a sex toy.  I had to recruit women willing to use the test product for several weeks, then have a one on one interviews with a moderator.  I do not know if this product ever made it to market, but it was one of the most bizarre recruits ever requested.

CR – What are your favorite groups to recruit?

Heidi – I feel that recruiting is like a big puzzle, and I enjoy finding the best possible respondents who match the required quotas.  My favorite groups to recruit are the very large studies, as I love the challenge it presents.

Heidi Eisenberg has been in the marketing research field since 1986 when she started her career with The Nielsen Company.  She has experience in both quantitative and qualitative research, and her background encompasses a very broad range including field management, client services, cross functional team management, working with manufacturers, retailers and vendors, project management regarding all aspects of focus groups including idea generation, questionnaire design, recruiting and moderating focus group, and reporting actionable results from focus groups.   She has been involved with all aspects of focus groups since 1996, which she realized is her passion, and truly enthralled with consumer behavior.  She is a mom of two wonderful teenagers, a transplant from NYC, and a graduate with a MBA in Marketing from Hofstra University, and undergrad from the University of South Florida.