How To: Select a Focus Group Moderator

A marketing research project can be filled with many important decisions. Focus groups are complicated by the fact that there are decisions to be made about the location, recruiting participants, incentives, and much more.  Before you start any focus group project you should be thinking about one of the most important decision you will make—who will moderate the focus groups? The moderator is the leader of the focus groups and ensuring that you have the right moderator will lead to a great project. Here's what you should be asking:

1. Can you help me choose the proper methodology? A good moderator should be able to consult with you to determine how to help you reach your project goals. The methodology should be connected to outcomes and guide the overall process.

2. Can you help me decide where to hold the focus groups? The location of a focus group session should be appropriate to the topic and the participants. You'll need to consider the geographic location as well as physically where the focus groups themselves will take place.

3. What happens when one person dominates the focus group session, or everyone hates our product? A good moderator is trained to interact with participants and ensure that everyone's voice is heard, and to probe for positive and negative reactions.

4. Do you have any training or certification as a moderator? Ask your vendor if the moderator has been trained to lead focus groups. A good moderator has been through an extensive training course to learn this customized skill set.

5. What are the deliverables from a focus group session? Research companies offer a variety of types of reports. Be sure to ask in advance about which types of reports are offered and how they can be adjusted to your needs.