Focus Groups can be a great way of eliciting qualitative detailed opinions from your targeted demographics about the product/service you wish to introduce. Obtaining good qualitative market research should be seen as a must in the Chinese market – a market that is highly complex, nuanced and unpredictable. We at Hub of China conduct these focus groups in China, in controlled environments, moderated by highly skilled and experienced interviewers who have an understanding of Chinese culture.
The more casual way of life in China and less emphasis on punctuality can mean that a commitment to turn up for a focus group is less likely than in the West. Getting 6 to 10 people in one place at one time is always challenging which is why we normally invite more participants than we need – to ensure a greater accuracy of results.
Chinese People Are More Conservative
Chinese people are generally less open and have been some what conditioned from an early age to keep their opinions quiet and to themselves. Indeed there seems to be such fear of giving a ‘wrong answer’ that some Chinese people would prefer not to provide their opinion all together. This stems from their education system whereby students are reprimanded in public for making mistakes – resulting in a loss of face(the worst possible punishment in Chinese culture).
Moderators Need to Encourage Participation
Thus a focus group moderator in China has to be very skilled at encouraging participation, creating an environment whereby participants feel comfortable, and drawing out the shy ones. The warm-up period is often much longer in China. To ensure the moderator is aware of the different ethnic and social backgrounds of participants and to ensure participants feel more confident in providing their honest opinion.
It’s Important to Understand the Dynamics of Chinese Focus Groups
Breaking up your groups according to gender and age, as well as many other criteria should also be considered carefully. Indeed it is considered sometimes rude or unacceptable for a younger person to suggest they have a conflicting opinion with either an older person or one who is more “senior” or “important”. I have witnessed many a time younger participants agreeing with older participants for that very reason.
We at hub of China find that often laughter is the best medicine and can help provide an environment for participants to feel comfortable. Focus groups in China need to be conducted by highly skilled moderators who have a real understanding of Chinese culture and the challenges it can present.