Select people who are:
- Typical of your audience (the same behavioral, demographic and psychographic characteristics). You may want to conduct separate groups with “doers” (those who already engage in the desired behavior) and “non-doers” (those who don’t) to help identify what actions the doers take and why. Those approaches then can be explored with the non-doers.
- Not experts. Exclude market researchers and advertising professionals (because of their familiarity with the methodology) and those who have, or might be perceived by other group members as having, expertise in the subject matter. For example, exclude health professionals from focus groups when the topic is a health issue. In addition, anyone involved in the production, distribution or marketing of tobacco products should be excluded from focus groups regarding the issue of tobacco control.
- Of the same gender, race, age, level of formal education or other characteristic(s) within each group so that participants are more likely to express themselves freely. If your target audience includes people of different demographics, consider whether you need to conduct separate sessions for each audience segment in order to determine whether there are differences between the groups.
- Relative newcomers to interviews, so that their reactions will be spontaneous. This will help you avoid questioning “professional” respondents (i.e., those who have participated in focus groups or individual interviews before) who may lead or monopolize the discussion. Typically, the recruitment screeners exclude people who have participated in qualitative research in the past six months.