Focus groups: before or after?

Focus groups: before or after?

I am often asked by my clients if focus groups should be conducted before or after a survey. Each time, I hesitate a few seconds, and then answer “It depends”.

Indeed, it’s a bit like choosing to take your shower in the morning or in the evening. Both work and depend essentially on the context.


If you have an innovative research project in which focus groups and a survey are planned and know little about the topic, focus groups at the beginning are a must. They will allow you to…

• test the waters;
• learn about the vocabulary used by consumers;
• expand your horizons;
• dismiss some received ideas;
• improve the wording of your survey questions.

So, are there really situations where focus groups after a survey are useful? Certainly!


Recently, I found myself in a situation where the survey results raised several questions. The focus groups came to the rescue and helped to close the loop.

At this research stage, we knew exactly what information was missing. The process was even more effective.

Before and after

Sometimes, we plan focus groups at the beginning AND at the end of the project. A little like Columbo, we come back with “one more question”.

The thirst for knowledge

Ultimately, focus groups are there to help us UNDERSTAND.

There is never a bad time to learn a little more, right? Personally, do you prefer BEFORE or AFTER? I invite you to ponder this question during your next shower.

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