Steady Growth in Qual Fieldwork - Industry Trends

Last year saw a 3.5% increase in the number of focus groups and other qual market research interviews conducted worldwide, according to FocusVision’s annual ‘Focus Group Index’. The figure matches the previous year’s growth.

The firm – which supplies video transmission and digital recording technology to the research industry – says that the use of focus group research continues to increase in conjunction with increases in overall market research spending.

Non-US growth out-paced US growth for the first time in four years with US growth numbers slowing to 2.9% (increasing to 255,000 groups) compared with a reported total research spending growth rate of 6%. FocusVision attributes this to moderate shifts to other qual methodologies such as online bulletin boards and ethnographic studies. US growth also experienced flat to declining qual market research spending from the pharma and financial sectors.

US focus group facilities also reported declining average billable amounts for services due to ‘aggressive price competition’ and direct involvement from client procurement departments. Other trends include small shifts from traditional 8-10 respondent groups to more intimate ‘dyad’ and ‘triad’ formats. Qual/quant hybrid projects are also increasing. These involve response meters and survey components as well as sensory and product studies encompassing very high numbers of respondents over multiple days.

Non-US growth activity at 4.1% is in line with a reported 4% overall increase in 2007 research spend. FocusVision also noted high growth numbers reported from facilities in the Latin America and Asia-Pacific regions. Another trend is the movement of face-to-face interviewing migrating from in-home to focus facility venues in developing countries. For the first time, the index included performance feedback from focus facility managers and owners, and the firm said that this has allowed it to gain deeper insight into trends.

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