Cheaper By The Dozen – Online Qualitative Research

At a time when inflation and higher prices dominate headlines, it’s rare to find anything that can be accomplished at a lower cost.

Due to technology adoption and COVID-19 (Yes, the pandemic), marketers now can conduct Qualitative Focus Groups with Farmers at a greatly reduced cost and with several advantages.


The Holiday Inn Express Circuit

Previously, planning previous focus groups was a complex task. Research facilities don’t exist in rural market areas – you needed to find a community center, or if you were lucky, a local hotel with an appropriate meeting room. Holiday Inn Express hotels were popular since the hotel chain offered rural locations near interstates and could at least turn their breakfast areas into evening meeting rooms.

Once you located a workable meeting place, you then needed to recruit, pay participants, (not only for their time but also for their travel expense) and coordinate travel to each scheduled location. For research with a widespread group, such as potato and tomato growers, you might spend more than a full week lugging audio/video equipment from Idaho to New Brunswick to California.

Thankfully, this story is now largely set in the past. Just as the rest of the country, many farmers now use platforms such as ZOOM for video meetings with business contacts, friends, and family. Some even virtually attended church services during the pandemic.

Producers are now willing and able participating in virtual focus groups.


Leveraging the Virtual Focus Group Advantage

Virtual focus groups are not simply a low-cost replacement for in person focus groups; they can yield unique insights that would never be found in person by bringing together producers from across multiple geographies. Smart research firms will design their focus group discussion guides and moderation to capitalize on this advantage.

If planned properly, participants will build off the differences, and similarities, found across their different market areas – helping you to determine what producer needs are area specific and what strategies will be applicable regionally or nationwide.

Virtual focus groups offer other advantages compared to in-person groups:

  • Lower Costs – no facility fees, elimination of travel costs and reduced incentives.
  • Engagement – farmers are also interested in how things are done differently in other areas, leading to lively discussions.
  • Recruitment Time – Since farmers can participate from their home computer, they are more likely to agree to participate.
  • Content – no visual exhibit or content restrictions.
  • Recording & Reporting – improved digital video and audio quality for reporting.
  • Observation – ease of group observation by clients and colleagues from any location.

Where once qualitative testing of product concepts, messaging or communications concepts may have been cost prohibitive, it is now practical to conduct virtual farmer groups at a fraction of the cost.


Avant Marketing Group Offers Turnkey Qualitative Ag Research

Whether you need to plan focus groups or in-depth interviewing, Avant Marketing Group provides comprehensive services to satisfy your objectives and maximizes the benefits of the online research format. This includes discussion guide development, moderation/interviewing, recruiting, and final reporting – we are a single source for research results with farmers across all livestock and crop commodities nationwide.


To learn more about our research expertise in conducting virtual focus groups or if you need an estimated cost for upcoming research, please don’t hesitate to contact Senior Partner, Mark Vogel: [email protected].