Focus Groups | some basic local lessons

We have recently conducted 20 focus groups across Georgia. (More on the content later.)

Here are some basic tips and tricks we found useful.

  • Rewards: 15 GEL phone cards; that seems just about right: not overpaying, but still attractive.
  • Recruitment: on the street, at sampling points a couple of days in advance; we get definitive agreement from 20 people, write down their phone number and address, and then send out a taxi to pick up the respondent before the event; we did NOT screen for articulacy and ended up with a few laconic focus group members, but never more than one or two per group. In future, we may ask a quick AND complex question (a typical screen is something like”if you could only pick one skill, which skill would you like to have, playing an instrument or a team sport? And tell us why?”), to select even better. 
  • Timing: amazingly, we started several of the focus groups EARLY since everyone was there already; so we turned the reserve away, with the 15 GEL phone card as a reward for showing up. Typically, groups ran 2 hours, and that worked fine.
  • Numbers: we had 10 people per group, which was OK considering that we had some less outspoken participants; otherwise, it would have been just a bit too much; small things matter: narrow tables ended up isolating participants at the end.
  • Discussion Guide: on that, we spent a lot of time. We think we got that right.
  • Mirrors: nice to have, of course, but we opted for a camera, with a live feed (see photo) into the next room; we briefly thought about purchasing the cameras, but then decided the wiser course was to hire a professional local journalism organisation.
  • Minority areas: for Kvemo Kartli and Samtske-Javakheti, we brought in facilitators from Azerbaijan and Armenia. Many people told us that you couldn’t use Baku Azerbaijani language in Marneuli, but it turns out that our Baku-based facilitator got along very well (although some people seemed shy of her ‘high’ language, and responded in Russian); maybe this would change in rural areas, but in Marneuli city, Azerbaijani language is not an issue.
  • We always had a facilitator and a note-taker, even if the latter is a bit of a luxury since we had full transcripts, it serves a good support function.

We hope others doing research will find some of this helpful. Any suggestions for good screening questions