Online focus groups – a cognitive substitute or the first step to a new qualitative era?

Online focus groups were initially developed as a faster and less expensive way to capture geographically diverse audiences.
Through experience however, we discover that the “magic” of online focus groups goes far beyond rational advantages, to the discovery of new and more natural conversation behaviors.
Online is the new way people talk and interact … so, by default a more comfortable and familiar communication context where participants - relieved of the “awkwardness” of sitting in a room full of strangers – now feel free to express their thoughts and emotions via a natural for them medium.

…and even more… in online discussions, people communicate using body language, which when you look close enough, could be highly revelating of their lifestyle and idiosyncrasy.

Often enough, in online focus groups people talk from their couch, their bed, while cooking …or even while hugging their pet….real life behaviors, which cannot be verbally articulated in a conventional focus group and which allow for more intimate conversations amongst participants.

As characteristically reported … “online group sessions are like being invited to your friends home”

The annulment of distance and traveling logistics is yet another benefit of online focus groups as communicating from the comfort of one’s home increases accessibility of difficult to reach targets – hence ensuring higher recruitment quality.
At the same time, it enables clients to follow the discussion process from the comfort of their own desk, and interact with the moderator via messages, without disrupting the group process.

With the scope of capturing this new qualitative era, the research hive has enriched its online platform with LiveView…a service which offers group session possibilities based on WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) technology.
LiveView allows for easy, seamless and real-time interaction amongst people in online discussions which encompasses also instantaneous sharing of any data and audiovisual material.
LiveView enables discussion from any location, whether they be in home or on the go …as conversations can be carried out from any screen participants choose to use.
So, in a world that is continuously changing, research owes it to itself, to create methodologies which replicate reality in a familiar and inspiring manner for our participants.