I’ve heard more than one respected researcher tell me that online chat focus groups do not allow for a significant depth of response and that respondents provide short, top of mind answers of limited value.
With more than a thousand notches on our online chat belt we can soundly report that participants provide as much detail and depth as is requested, provided you have a skilled interviewer and a well conceived discussion guide.
When the moderator asks a question to a group responding only via text, some respondents will answer right away, then follow that up with detail in a separate comment, while others will type the whole answer before hitting send. However they answer, it is surprisingly intuitive to follow the collective conversation as it scrolls on the screen, and even easier on the back-end to pull what you need from the transcripts.
When pulling key quotes for your report, simply combine any “choppy” answers from a single respondent so you have the full picture of what the participant actually conveyed.
For example, a discussion about a new plastic storage container prompted a multitude of separate responses from a single participant over the course of several minutes. When pulled together, the brevity builds and begins to tell the full story:
“The containers are great… the attached lids… we have an office full of the old lids, no bottoms… the new containers stack well… labels don’t fall off… [I use the new containers for] storing everything here and at home that fits… [before I discovered these containers] I struggled with cardboard boxes we assembled ourselves… we can’t use the cardboard for long term storage… falls apart.”
-Kim, 35, male, IL