How to Analyze Focus Group Results

Analysis – The Five Steps

Focus group results produce large amounts of data.

So, what do you do with this data? How do you analyze it?

Qualitative marketing research analysis is a five-step process.

  1. Data Grouping
  2. Information Labels
  3. Knowledge (Findings)
  4. Theory
  5. Implications

You analyze data by grouping respondents’ answers to each question. You develop information by labeling each group of answers. You gain knowledge by asking how the information answers the research objectives. They are findings. You develop theory based on the evidence. You judge what it means.

Careful analysis starts with written transcriptions. Transcriptions are the written interview conversations… word-for-word quotes. Get interviews transcribed. Transcriptions are your starting point for analysis.

Here are the analysis steps in detail.

1. Data Grouping
Group answers from all interviews to each question.
For each question, what do respondents say?

2. Information Labels
What does each group of answers describe?
Organize and classify answers into categories.
Label each group of answers.

3. Knowledge (Findings)
How does the information answer the research objectives?

4. Theory
What theories develop?

5. Implications
What does it mean?
What major themes emerge?

When you complete your qualitative marketing research analysis, ask the following questions,

  • What have you discovered?
  • Is the knowledge something you know already, or is it new?
  • Does the knowledge confirm a hunch?
  • Do the findings pass the “big deal test” or the “so what test?”
  • How does the knowledge change your perspective?
  • What else do you need to know?
  • What major themes emerge?
  • What insight have you gained?

An insight is the ability to see the inner nature of things… what is important about something. Insight helps you understand.

Major Themes Arising from Focus Group Results

Developing major themes requires a little bit of time. The ha-ha moment – the big idea or theme – takes time to emerge.

Let the data, information, and knowledge sink in. Absorb it. Let it brew. Sleep on it.

Then ask what the big picture means.

Number of Analysts

If you are the moderator and analyst, you will produce data, information, and knowledge. You’ll carry out the analysis.

If you can get a couple of people to help with the analysis, your combined effort may tweak out a little more information. Additional analysts provide different perspectives.

If only you are doing the analysis, don’t worry. Just follow the five steps.


The results and findings of qualitative marketing research suggest hunches and theories. It plots direction for further investigation.

You want findings to be as reliable and valid as possible. But sample size and the nature of the open-ended questions and techniques do not allow for statistical precision in qualitative research.

You will find variation in qualitative research. So, exercise judgment.


Focus group results produce large amounts of data.

During qualitative marketing research analysis, convert data to information and knowledge.

Ask how the focus group results and knowledge answers research objectives. They are your findings. It’s insight development.

Now you are ready to write a report.

Use qualitative marketing research to explore, discover, describe, gain depth, and chart direction.

Return to Analysis & Reports from focus group results
Return to Home Page