Discussion boards: online focus groups

Qualitative bulletin boards or bulletin board focus groups are an online forum for a targeted group of individuals. The boards have a moderator, administrator and are comprised of online communities, just like general discussion boards.

Organizations that specialize in qualitative assessments of consumers’ attitudes and perceptions offer focus group sessions entirely web based. Online forums extend for 3 to 4 days offering researchers insight in a short time. Participants share their thoughts in great detail revealing high levels of emotion that surpasses traditional focus groups. Forums provide participants with questionnaires that require open ended data therefore providing qualitative information. Researches use multiple forms of marketing materials such as print video and audio for users to fully understand the products.


Many researchers claim there are many benefits to conducting market research online. Some include:

  • lower cost
  • faster turnaround time
  • respondents increase openness when they do not have an interviewer staring them in the face
  • loss of geographical barriers
  • attract hard to reach participants
  • completely anonymous
    • detailed data
  • reduce chance for visual biases
  • instant, communication between participants and moderator


However, there are some drawbacks involved in using online focus groups.

  • poor results due to non face-to-face interaction
  • difficulty creating real world dynamic
  • lack of security
  • moderator unsure if participants are giving full attention to the computer screen
  • external distractions

Given that there are both strengths and weaknesses to both methods of conducting a focus group, many organizations have begun conducting  market research online. One notable instance when an individual conducted online market research by utilizing Facebook to create an online focus group provided to be beneficial. Read more here.



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