Our lives took a strange turn at the end of 2019. With the world in the grips of a global pandemic, and most of us confined to our homes, online meeting platforms – like Zoom and Teams – became a lifeline. Without them, we’d have felt cut-off from our colleagues, far-flung from our families, and lost in our own loneliness; we’d have also missed out on many a high-stakes quiz with overly competitive friends!
But despite the beacon of hope these platforms provided when we needed it the most, off-the-shelf options aren’t always the sensible choice for professional projects. Without the key features that market researchers so desperately need to carry out in-depth investigations, standard solutions often fall short. Which is why we took matters into our own hands.
In this blog, we’re going to introduce you to the solution you’ve been waiting for: Forsta Discussions; and because we’re so sporting, we’ll also save you the effort of comparing it to popular platforms, like Zoom and Teams, by comparing it for you.
Let’s dive straight in, shall we?
Off-the-shelf vs. focus group solutions built for research
If you’re ready to add another dimension to your insight, Forsta Discussions is built for you.
In the world of market research, research-specific solutions are crucial to the success of any project – but what if you don’t need the full service, white-glove solution? What if you need the ability to dive deeper into attitudes, behaviors, and consumer journeys, but you’ve only got a one-dimensional comms platform at your disposal? What if what you really need is an intuitive DIY focus group solution?
Off-the-shelf options have become popular for conducting focus groups since the pandemic showed us that not everything has to be done in person, but while they’re easy-to-use and widely available, they often fall short when it comes to professional market research. Why? Because they don’t provide the necessary functionality for effective communication and analysis, and they can’t always be relied upon to handle sensitive data, like personally identifiable information (PII).
Let’s look at how else they differ:
Lack of backroom chat and observer functionality
Without the ability to talk to other researchers privately during focus groups, you risk altering the flow of discussion, or missing out on important input from your fellow observers. Having clients lurking on the call (even when muted) can also make participants reluctant to express their honest opinions, which renders any insights gathered rather ineffective.
Forsta Discussions offers dedicated backroom functionality – allowing moderators and observers to communicate seamlessly without disrupting the discussion, for insights you can bank on.
Lack of time-synced chat, notes, and annotation features
Off-the-shelf solutions often leave researchers and observers toggling between programs and windows, slowing down understanding and disturbing their concentration (look up context switching – it’s a thing!). After the session, you need immediate access to reliable, clear transcripts, rather than waiting for a recording to be ready post-production.
Forsta Discussions is equipped with professional capabilities for time-synced chat, notes, and annotation features. This also means you can easily look through notes or transcripts and find what you need in minutes.
Lack of adequate security
In our security-conscious world, it’s more important than ever to treat participants’ personal information (PII) with respect, as misusing or not protecting PII can mean hefty fines and a serious dent to your brand’s reputation. Off-the-shelf options may not provide the necessary data handling capabilities needed for sensitive market research projects.
Forsta Discussions is designed with PII handling in mind – with security considerations like automatic blurred backgrounds and privacy protections baked in.
Lack of human view
A picture paints a thousand words, but off-the-shelf tools only offer a head-and-shoulders view of a participant – meaning you might miss key tells from a participant’s body language and any fleeting facial expressions.
Forsta Discussions can capture emotions in real time, at speed, and in high-definition – even in low bandwidth mode (meaning you’ll never miss a moment).
When analysis really matters
In addition to its recording and transcription capabilities, Forsta Discussions is integrated into the Forsta HX Platform which offers robust analysis solutions –This includes sentiment analysis, word clouds and text analytics, which can help you to uncover patterns and insights that may not be immediately apparent; this is especially useful for projects with large amounts of data, where manual analysis can be time-consuming and impractical.
Endless functionality, all in one platform.
And the best bit? We put the power in your hands, so you can set up a focus group in a matter of clicks. In fact, that’s one of the things that sets Forsta Discussions apart from other pro focus group solutions: with self-service capabilities for scheduling, conducting, and analyzing results, you don’t have to rely on anyone else. Our platform is designed with ease of use in mind – making it accessible to a wider range of researchers.
Compromises when using off-the-shelf tools
While Forsta Discussions makes light work of your market research projects, there are a couple of other trade-offs to consider when using an off-the-shelf option.
- Platforms like Zoom and Teams may be more cost-effective and convenient on the surface, but they lack the specialized features and data handling capabilities that most professional market research projects need. Many features you need will need to be added on or you will need to pay for added functionality. So, while research-specific focus group solutions like Forsta Discussions might not be free, you get a far wider range of features and capabilities – which means greater value for money, and time saved through more accurate analysis.
- You also need to consider functionality. Off-the-shelf options may be limited in their ability to handle sensitive data or to provide advanced analytic tools; research-specific focus group solutions like Forsta Discussions are designed with these requirements in mind, so it’s vital you weigh the importance of these features against budgetary constraints.
The compromises you inevitably make when choosing an off-the-shelf product can have a significant impact on your research outcomes – such as missing key insights or not handling sensitive data in accordance with industry standards. So, while a professional focus group solutions might take more of your budget, the investment is often worthwhile.
Mitigating the challenges of focus groups
Even as a total market research pro, conducting focus groups can be challenging, and one of the biggest hurdles is finding the right people to answer your questions. Managing participants who are willing and able to provide meaningful feedback takes time, effort and resources, while managing the discussion itself can be particularly difficult – especially when you’re dealing with a large group.
Research-specific focus group solutions can help to mitigate some of these challenges with advanced features for participant and session management.
For example, with Forsta Discussions, you can manage, schedule and conduct sessions. And record live interviews with participants and review previously recorded sessions including downloadable assets such as the audio version, transcript, and highlights (key moments in the video).
Not to mention, it works right from the browser with no download needed.
So, what else are you up against?
Helping participants to feel comfortable enough to share their opinions and feedback can be a struggle. When clients are lurking on the call (even out of sight), it can be unsettling to the uninitiated. That’s why our platform has been designed as a safe and supportive environment for people to share their thoughts and ideas. Features like anonymous participant roles and the ability to flag personally identifiable information (PII) can help to protect participant privacy and encourage open and honest feedback.
The importance of impact
When it comes to market research, your choice of focus group solution can have a significant
impact on the accuracy and success of your project. A research-specific solution like Forsta Discussions, can provide you with the features and functionality needed to generate accurate and actionable insights, while off-the-shelf options like Zoom or Teams can lead to wasted time and resources.
Considering the impact of the solution you’re planning to use helps to make sure you’re using the right platform for the job in hand: this should include assessing cost, functionality, ease of use, and the impact on research outcomes. While some off-the-shelf options may seem more cost-effective, they might not provide the functionality you need – leading to inaccurate or incomplete data.
Using the right solution can help to ensure that data is accurate, comprehensive, and representative of your target audience for insights that drive business decisions and provide real competitive advantage; in contrast, using the wrong solution can lead to missed opportunities and inaccurate insights, ultimately hindering the success of your research project.
Making your research count
No one likes to shell out more of their budget than they need to, but when you need to, you know it.
Forsta Discussions is a savvy choice for market research professionals – giving you the insights and functionality you need, while saving you from wasted time and resources.
If you’re looking to catch up with friends and family over a virtual coffee or a quiz, Zoom and Teams are a top choice, but if you want invaluable consumer insights to help guide business decisions, off-the-shelf isn’t always where it’s at.
With backroom chat, observer roles, in-built security, timestamped and annotatable notes, transcriptions and download capabilities, and advanced PII handling, our DIY focus group platform puts the power in your hands, and the answers at your fingertips.
Find the stories behind the statistics with Forsta Discussions.
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