Curtis Associates Research Ltd
Higher Education and Industrial Research Market Research, Database Management and Business Development Services

Recruiting For Focus Groups

Gathering respondents around a table and guiding them through a discussion about the subject of the research is a very productive research technique.

However, the process of recruiting respondents to attend a focus group can be a real headache as well as very time consuming.

The usual way is to email a group of potential respondents with the details of the focus group (including time, date and location).

For each one that responds, a manual system is in place to verify they fit predetermined criteria (often by telephone or email reply), determine the focus group they fit into and book them on it. A single confirmation email is manually sent.

There are several problems with this process:

After several years of running the recruitment process as detailed above, Curtis Associates Research Limited has implemented a proprietary solution which has proved exceptionally effective.

Here’s how it works:

1. An email invitation is sent to the potential respondent group. The email contains a web link to an online focus group recruitment tool.
2. The respondent clicks through to the online focus group recruitment tool.
3. They enter their name and email address and answer some simple criteria questions to determine which group (if any) they are eligible for.
4. The system checks to see if they match the criteria for any of the groups and, if there is a match, whether the group still has available places.
5. The system presents the applicant with the time and date of the matching focus group and waits for a confirmation of attendance (they simply click a button to say ‘Yes they can attend’).
6. The system then presents confirmation of the time and date and details the location of the group. Again a confirmation is required before proceeding. The location is only shown to applicants who initially confirm attendance. This reduces the chances of others trying to attend the group even though they haven’t completed the full booking process (and might not fit the criteria).
7. The system confirms that they are booked on the focus group. It immediately emails a confirmation to them.
8. The day before the focus group, the system emails a reminder of the focus group together with time, date and location, to all registered applicants.

The whole process is handled online and, once set up, requires no client involvement.

To demonstrate how successful the system is, here’s the result of a recent student focus group recruitment:

1) 6.30pm – Initial email invitation sent
2) 6.40pm – Group 1 is fully recruited
3) 7.10pm – Group 2 is fully recruited
4) 8.30pm – Group 3 is fully recruited

There were three groups of 8 to fill and each potential attendee was checked against a single criterion and recruited on a first come first served basis.

The speed of recruitment was much quicker than a manual system and it was all done in the evening which is one of the best times to catch students’ attention on email.


A focus group is a great way of getting in-depth views and opinions to reinforce information gathered using other market research methods eg. surveys.

By using an online focus group recruitment tool, it speeds up recruitment and frees up staff resource.

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Curtis Associates Research Limited
7 Claresholm Close,
Oakham, Rutland.
LE15 6UR.

Tel: 0870 751 8842
Fax: 0870 751 8843


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