Updated: Jun 11
Are you one of the many who hadn’t given Zoom much thought before March 2020 when the nation locked down and everything went on-line and digital? At the end of March, searches for 'Zoom' and 'Zoom Groups' hit an all time high on Google Trends.
Zoom’s taken off and become a cross-generational household name in the UK and internationally, almost overnight. It has become spring 2020’s brand equivalent of Hoover in the vacuum world back in the 60s.
Plus Zoom has captivated the attention of the qualitative research world. In the space of 3 months ‘Zoom Groups’ has almost become synonymous with Virtual Groups (once itself short-hand for Online Groups in Real Time).
Zoom Pro has many benefits for Virtual Focus Group Research
Zoom Pro is great. It’s low cost and simple to use as a research platform. The Great British Public feels familiar with it from Book Club, Yoga, French Conversation and Committee meetings. Its familiarity in the home has fast-tracked its prominence in the research world.
For sure, when a research brief has relatively straightforward requirements (e.g. share written concepts, post collages, use interactive white boards, separating participants into break-out rooms, video recording sessions) then Zoom Pro offers a good solution, and often ticks enough ‘confidence boxes’ with its enhancements to its security (including password protected access, waiting room and locked room functions).
Other On-Line Focus Group Platforms are also great
At this point, it’s worth saying, other brands exist. Google Meetings, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams…all offer something similar, and are sometimes favoured by client brands for having stronger reputations on security.
Furthermore, numerous specialist research brands offer great platforms to host online Virtual Groups – and have done so for many years! They vary in terms of their features, pricing models, levels of cost and support.
For video real-time discussions, Visions Live, InterVu, and Civicom (amongst others) lie at the advanced end of the market with sophisticated platform features (including Heat maps, tools to do sorting exercises, polls, tools to place markers on advertising films). As these platforms offer a lot, they tend to be expensive. Other platforms, such as Live Loop and Discuss.io tend to be a little cheaper because they are simpler in terms of the kind of tools they offer.
The Level of Support and Service Varies Across Providers
Service and support is where, in my view, one of the main differences lies between the ‘Zoom-type’ products, and the specialist research providers – the level of support to ensure that the group participants are ‘on-boarded’ and have the technical support to participate in the focus groups fully. This can be very important, let’s face it.
From my personal experience, I have been impressed by Civicom for its technical and customer support – and I have heard good things about Live Loop. However, experiences do vary, and your comments on whom you have found great service providers would be good to hear.
When Choosing What Platform to Work With, Be Realistic About What is Important to You
As a researcher (client or agency), it is worth thinking about exactly what you want from your Virtual FG host/platform, and what kind of service and support you want/need.
With budgets under pressure, and as the lower cost platforms grow in popularity, it is worth also considering what your recruitment partner can do for you to help with on-boarding participants and providing technical support. There are also a number of individual consultants who can provide ad hoc project support, to make some of the cheaper platform scenarios work well for you.
If you would like some advice or would like to talk further, drop me a note at: Caroline@cthompson.co.uk
Look forward to Zooming with you soon!
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Note: for a great source of information on online research resources check out www.InsightPlatforms.com
About the author:
Caroline Thompson is a Strategic Qualitative Research consultant with wide expertise, conducting qualitative research studies in consumer goods, service and regulated markets.
Caroline Thompson Associates is a boutique research agency. Our goal is to provoke new insight and 'moments of truth' to inform brand, communications, service and retail strategies.
Our bespoke team of director level consultants drive new understanding of people and their thought processes by getting into their world....