A focus group can be extremely helpful to get into the mindset of your customers and receive genuine, helpful feedback for your company.
Using a focus group over other methods of customer feedback will allow you to have a full, multi-participant discussion about your product – versus stagnant answers on a computer screen.
It will also allow you to interact with your customers and drive the conversation towards your specific, desired outcome. Like reviews, focus groups allow you to discover the feedback you need to grow. But in order for your focus group to be successful and worthwhile, you need to ask your customers the right questions.
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Here are 50+ example questions to ask when conducting a focus group:
These questions are usually open-ended questions aimed at setting the tone for the focus group. They will gauge your group’s interest-level and knowledge of the product, as well as set the tone for the focus group discussion.
Be sure to ask introductory questions that will steer and drive the discussion in the way you want it to go.
- Today’s topic is [your product]. What are your general feelings about it?
- What do you already know about this product? What is something you would like to learn more about it?
- How did you first hear about this product?
- What words or phrases come to mind when you think of this product?
- How familiar are you with this product?
- When, how, and where do you use this product?
- What do you like best about this specific product?
- What are your problems or concerns when using this product?
- What brands do you associate with this product?
- What trends do you see happening in this industry?
Once the discussion has opened up from the introductory questions, you will want to use follow-up questions to dig deeper into the topics that have been brought up and clarify what has been stated in the opening.
These are the questions you can use to drive your focus group in the way you want it to go. Pick the topics you want to discuss the most and expand upon them, and be sure to cover each area of follow-up questions to cover all your bases.
We will expand on the reasoning behind each question in the following section, because these are the content questions that will really provide the results you want to see from your focus group.
While it may seem counterintuitive, you should ask direct questions about your competitors to know what your company can do better to beat out the competition.
You can receive feedback on what your competitors are doing that your customers like and also dislike to know that your company and product is providing the best service out there for the market.
With the answers from these questions, you can dig into the decision making process for purchasing and understand the “why” behind the customer’s buy:
11. When looking for this product, what company or brand first comes to mind?
Target your marketing skills. Try to drive the answer in a way that will tell you what would make your company the first in the customer’s mind if yours isn’t their first choice.
12. Who do you think is the largest competitor to our product? Why?
You may think you know your biggest competitor, but getting the customer’s insight on this can shed light on specific companies that may have not even been on your radar as a major competitor.
13. What features do you think are better in our competitor’s product?
Get more practical, specific insight into what customers think your competitors are doing better.
14. In what aspects do we succeed where our competitors fail, and vise-versa?
This blunt ask should provide you with a specific pros/cons style list to compare with your competitors.
15. What changes would you recommend making to our product to give us an edge over our competitors?
Help your customers do the brainstorming for new ideas that you could implement to enhance your product.
Improvements & Dissatisfaction Questions
In order to gather productive data and make the right changes to your product, you need to figure out what customers are unhappy with currently.
This will help you to get to the root of any issues you are currently facing with your product, and it will take out any guess-work from your company as to why customers might be choosing the competitor’s product over yours.
16. What are specific issues, concerns, or problems you’ve faced when using this product?
Identify the specific issues your customers are facing in order to figure out your products biggest issue and prioritize that concern.
17. How significant is the problem or concern you have with this product?
This question aims to provide a better idea of how crucial your customer’s problem is or how immediately the problem needs to be addressed and solved.
18. What is the cause of this problem?
Let the customer identify what they believe is the root of their problem, even if you think you may know the true answer.
19. How would you expect a customer service department to respond to this problem?
Gain service feedback and help meet customer expectations of how they would like their concerns addressed and handled by your company.
20. What excuse would you give to a salesperson if you did not want to use this product and he/she was pressuring you to buy it?
Uncover an adverse, subconscious response that your customer might have towards your product. And even if they aren’t adverse to it, they will be forced to think about how they possibly could be.
21. What is something that has deterred you or would deter you from using our product?
Reveal some hidden marketing techniques that may just “rub your customer the wrong way” that your company may be unaware of.
22. What is something that would make you more inclined to buy and use this product, even if you are already a user?
Another brainstorming question that will provide you with solid ideas for future features that could be added, or for a change in marketing if needed.
23. What features or information does our marketing not address that you would like to hear more about?
Your customers will be able to tell you what they want to know more about, or what they feel uninformed about regarding your product.
24. What are this product’s key weaknesses?
Get to the root of customer dissatisfaction with the product.
Positive Aspects of the Product Questions
Along with the areas for improvement, you will want to ask your focus group what areas your product is excelling in over the competitors.
This will provide insight into the areas you should be expanding on or pouring more resources into that you know will be beneficial to the product and consumer. It will also help you avoid making any changes to features or aspects of your product that customers are truly enjoying and believe are functioning well already.
25. What are this product’s key strengths?
This question lets you know what your customers think you are doing well and what details of your product they benefit most from.
26. What positive experiences or outcomes have you had in using this product?
Get some specific customer stories or quotes on their positive interactions with your product.
27. What influences and motivates you to choose this product over others?
Find out the root of why your customers choose your company, whether it’s for your specific features or something else entirely (ex. Brand name, customer service, etc.).
28. What is your favorite aspect of our product and why?
Get to know your customer’s favorite part of your product and be sure to understand why.
29. What are some core values and beliefs you hold that lead you to purchase this product over the competitors?
Go beyond the features or uses of the product to understand why your customers believe in your brand.
Specific Feature Information Questions
After gaining general satisfaction knowledge from your customers, you need to get into the specifics of your products. If you fail to do this, then it will be more difficult to make specific improvement changes to your product after analyzing the results of the focus group.
You want to make sure you hear exactly what works well (or doesn’t) in this product, and you also want to hear how customers would do things differently with these features if they were in charge.
30. If you could choose a feature of this product to eliminate, what would you choose and why?
Narrow and streamline your product to cut out any aspects your customers don’t use or see as unnecessary.
31. If you could choose a feature of this product to develop further, what would you choose and why?
Gain knowledge on useful aspects of your product that might need revamping, or simply build upon what you already have.
32. If you could add any feature to our product, what would it be? Why?
Figure out what the customers feel is lacking from your product and why they think it is a necessary addition.
33. What features do you think are better in our product versus competitors?
See where you have the edge over your competitors in the eyes of the customer.
34. What features would make this product more useful in your daily life?
Dive into how exactly customers would feel this product could be more relevant in their lives.
Overall Usage and Opinion Questions
These questions will be more pointed than overall exit questions, but they will help you get a general feel from your customers about your product and what drives them to use/not use it.
This is also a good area to add in specific questions you may have about a certain aspect of your product, or if you are suspicious there may be a general feeling from consumers about your product that internally you cannot see.
35. What factors influence you to buy this product?
Look into marketing and specific product features that motivate your customers to buy your product over the competitors.
36. How has your opinion of this product changed over the past three years?
Give customers a timeline to get a more specific answer, and see how any shifts or changes in the company or product have affected customers’ views.
37. How has your usage of this product changed over the past three years?
Again, provide a timeline for a more thought-out answer, and figure out how those changes have affected the customer’s use of your product.
38. What are your expectations when purchasing a product such as this one?
Get to know your customers’ expectations so you can proactively fulfill them before a complaint occurs.
39. Do you expect to buy this product again or use it more in the upcoming year? Why or why not?
Learn about the actual foreseen consumption and use of your product, because although a customer may think highly of your company and its product, that doesn’t always mean the customer is planning on continuing to buy it.
40. Is there a different product that you think could replace this product? If yes, then what?
Find out if customers think your product is potentially irrelevant or could be replaced in the near future, and develop a prevention plan .
41. How much would you be willing to pay for this product? Why?
Know your customer’s opinion on the value of your product and gain a customer-centered view on its market value.
While driving the conversation through the use of follow-up questions, you want customers to expand on their answers. This can be prompted by using probing questions, or questions that will clarify.
41. You said that you would be likely to choose/not choose our product over the competitors, why is that?
42. Can you please clarify why your usage of this product has declined/increased over the past three years?
43. Tell me why you have those specific expectations when purchasing this product.
44. You mentioned X-competitor product, what about Y and Z competitor product?
45. Among the competitor companies mentioned, which would you choose from if you had to choose another company’s product? Why?
Although the main purpose of a focus group is to discuss and go deeper than your face-value yes/no questions, if one of your objectives is to quantify data, you might want to add a few questions that allow you to count specific answers and apply statistical techniques.
Closed-ended questions that force the whole group to answer may also eliminate any group bias that has arised from a few people dominating the conversation.
46. Do you use this product?
47. Would you say you are satisfied with the performance of this product?
48. Would you recommend this product to a friend?
49. Would you pay $X for this product?
50. Have you ever purchased the competitor’s product?
After all the desired topics have been discussed at length, you should end the conversation with exit questions to ensure nothing has been left unsaid.
You want to make sure you and your customers don’t leave the room with any lingering doubts. To do this, ask questions to prompt participants to fill any holes in the conversation.
51. Is there anything else you want to add to the conversation about this product?
52. Do you feel that any topic or issue about this product has not been addressed?
53. Would anyone else like to build-off of an opinion that has already been stated by another group member?
54. We discussed X topic at length, but we didn’t hear much about Y. Any other thoughts on Y?
55. Is there a specific topic we want to circle back to from this discussion to add or expand on?
The Right Questions Are the Key to Focus Group Success
The questions asked in a focus group are crucial. They will set the tone and drive the entire discussion, which will make or break the results for your company and your product.
Making sure you cover all of these areas when formulating your questions is extremely important, as well as the way you word and ask them.
Always prompt your customers for more in order to get the most information from them possible, but do so in a way that makes them feel comfortable and that their opinion is truly valuable. From there, you’ll have a wealth of feedback and information to analyze.