6 Benefits of Using a Dedicated Online Focus Group Solution vs. Using Zoom


With COVID-19 being a great catalyst, conducting online focus groups and IDIs has taken an enormous flight over the past year. Not only is it a cost-effective solution – think for example about travel and accommodation costs it saves -, it can also increase efficiency and give deeper insights compared to traditional focus groups. 

Until recently, many market research agencies were using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet as their preferred solution for conducting online research. Aforementioned solutions aim to provide an online conferencing platform as opposed to solutions which are developed in collaboration with market research agencies. Focus by CMNTY is such a tool, which is primarily focused on the market research industry. In addition to online conferencing solutions, Focus also contains a lot of extra features not seen in web conferencing tools that take your focus group or IDI to the next level.

Below you can find 6 key features & benefits that Focus stands out in compared to web conferencing tools.

Integrated Research Platform

Focus is part of CMNTY Platform, an all-in-one platform co-developed with market research agencies to bring them an online solution that fits all their research needs. The platform consists of several modules for data gathering, like diary studies, questionnaires, and discussions. You can use the entire platform during a study, of which a focus group or IDI is just a small part of the entire suite. This allows you to start with requesting participants to join a diary study, followed by a focus group or IDI to go more in-depth and finalizing your study with a questionnaire or alter the order if that fits your stakeholders needs better.

Using a single platform, participants can stay within the same environment, making it a seamless experience. Moderators can collect all data in a single place and don’t need to switch between different environments to control, manage and analyze the results.

Client Observation Room

Focus group facilities with physical spaces make use of two-way mirrors to allow clients to observe a group of participants. This allows clients (brands) to observe, discuss, connect and share thoughts amongst each other without influencing the group. Virtual spaces, such as online web conferencing tools generally don’t support the backroom option for observers. 

Focus on the other hand, allows you the same experience by introducing the observer role. By allowing clients to join as an observer, they can listen to the conversation, without being noticed by participants. Meanwhile, observers can chat in the backroom and share their thoughts with moderators running the session.

Dedicated Research Solutions

Focus comes by default with a dedicated set of research solutions built-in. There is no need to download additional software by neither respondents nor moderators, and there is no need to search for optional vendors who can support or analyze your zoom conference. Focus comes out the box with the following research options:

  • Whiteboard for visual support and co-creation
  • Polls to run quantitative research during your session and immediately discuss the results
  • Recording and Transcribing to analyze your session afterward
  • Mark interesting moments during your session and convert them to downloadable clips
  • Decide who and what is being recorded
  • Screen- and video sharing
  • Backroom for direct communication with your client
  • Let moderators join hidden, allowing them to support when necessary

Automated Scheduling

When conducting focus groups, you want to have a good mix of participants within your session to get sufficient variation amongst participants to allow for contrasting opinions. If you use a recruitment agency, you need to make sure demographics are collected upfront, and you need to know when someone is available to create a schedule. Focus simplifies the entire process by having an integrated automated scheduling system. After defining time slots, participants can pick their availability. Focus allows you to schedule participants amongst the available time slots with an easy-to-use interface based on their availability. Focus will automatically create the sessions for you, invite participants, and request confirmation to increase show-ups.

The Entire Process in a Single Platform

CMNTY Platform seamlessly integrates with Dynata’s global panel, the largest first data provider in the  industry. When you know what kind of participants you are looking for, you can easily recruit from within your platform. After the recruitment process, you can start running your focus groups and IDIs based on your participants’ availability. With the automated recording and transcription options available, you can easily run your analysis at the end. Allowing you to run your entire study in a single platform.

Secure and Privacy-Friendly

CMNTY Platform is available in different regions across the globe. This allows you to conduct sessions and store the results close to home without fearing it crosses a border to a different location. By using a single platform, you only need to go through the legal process once. Furthermore, CMNTY Platform has several options dealing with PII and participants’ anonymization, allowing moderators to respect participants’ privacy during the entire session.