Again about market studies

(part II)

By Dan Iliovici,
Vice-president Rombet

In the first part of this article, I briefly presented the main disadvantages of the quantitative, classic method of studying a certain market, in our case of gambling: the individual interview, through the telephone survey.

A complementary approach to the telephone survey is based on setting up focus groups and interviewing their members, according to a predetermined scenario.

Qualitative method of study, unlike the classical, quantitative survey, Richard Krueger (cited by Patton, 2002:386) defined in 1994 the focus group as a group interview “carefully prepared” to obtain information “on a determined area of interest, in a permissive, non-threatening setting. It is led (…) by a skilled interviewer. The discussion is comfortable, and often even enjoyable for the participants, as they share ideas and perceptions with each other. Group members influence each other, responding to ideas and comments made during the discussions.”

I believe the key to getting quality information from focus group members is a trained interviewer. A person who does not know the peculiarities of the gambling industry, who has not studied the field of gambling in depth, I do not think that he will be able to conduct the focus group discussions so that we have a study that is truly relevant to the objectives pursued. I would go even further, a good interviewer should himself have gone through experiences similar to those of the group members, the players in the focus group.

➣ focus (Patton, 2002:388):
– focusing on a theme: reactions to a product, a program, a common type are requested (shared) experience;
– group focus: the group is built according to a criterion of homogeneity;
– moderation: care to stay “to the point”;
– interaction on the topic of discussion;
– more efficient use of time;
➣ data reliability and validity can be better controlled:
➣ «participants tend to provide control and balance to each other, and this control eliminate false or extreme views’ (Patton, 2002 :386);
➣ the ethical aspects can be better controlled: the subjects know that they are being interviewed and voluntarily decide to participate.


Disadvantages (Patton, 2002:386-387)
➣ The number of issues that can be discussed is limited: no more than ten.
➣ The time available for each participant to speak is limited.
➣ The moderator needs very good training in managing group dynamics.
➣ The created context remains, however, “laboratory”.
Controversial or very intimate topics cannot be addressed:
a. Kaplowitz, 2000 (cited by Patton, 2002: 398): individual interviews proved, in 18 out of 19 situations, more appropriate for discussing socially sensitive topics than focus groups;
b. However, Parameswaran (2001) reports how only after collective discussions in which women’s problems were addressed as a group, Indian women who accepted individual interviews addressed intimate topics “in private” (cf. Patton, p.390).
➣ “It’s very useful for identifying big themes, but not so useful for micro-analyses of subtle differences» (Krueger, 1994:x).
➣ Confidentiality cannot be ensured: the participants see and hear each other, they can recognize each other later, they can tell stories later.
➣ They can lead to some psychological phenomena that affect validity (Carey, 1994).
➣ Conformity: a participant tends to harmonize their opinions and accounts with what others say or with what the moderator says.
➣ Self-censorship: a person refrains from intervening or being honest because he has none trust (in the moderator, in other members, in the way data is used).

iliovici dan

These phenomena can be explained by:
• the desire to be socially accepted;
• the need to be perceived “in line with the world”
: classic experiments show that sometimes it is enough for someone to have a single ally to talk about experiences or opinions contrary to those already expressed (Asch, 1951, cf. Carey, 1994: 237);
• some understand that the discussion must reach a consensus and seek to harmonize their points of view with those of others;
• in the context of the dialogue, some are tempted to resituate and reinterpret their past experiences as being almost the same as those of others;
• some opinions are formed on the spot, based on what others have said (those in question did not have an opinion);”*2

I have emphasized in the quote above what I consider to be the most important disadvantages of the qualitative method of focus-group study:
– Controversial topics such as gambling cannot be addressed;
– The answers of the group members are affected by the need to be perceived “in line with the world”, to be socially accepted.

In the end, the question remains open:
What methodology should we use for a market study that provides data and information as close to reality as possible?

*1 Text taken from the Qualitative Methods course, 2006-2007, Prof. univ. dr. Elisabeta Stănciulescu
*2 Quoted from the course from the previous Footnote

Articolul precedentFormula 1
Articolul următorAllwyn agrees to buy Camelot UK