Focus Groups, Mock Trials, and What they’re all About


Focus groups have 2-6 groups per project, 8-12 participants per group, and 24-200 hours spent calling, mock trials have 1 group, 18-45 participants, and 120-250 hours spent callingFocus groups can be an excellent resource for any business to deeply explore consumer opinions. We often find ourselves supporting clients with focus groups on a variety of topics leading us to provide both legal and traditional focus groups.

The biggest difference between traditional focus groups and legal focus groups/mock trials is the topics they discuss. Where focus groups tend to be discussions about products, services, or opinions, mock trials are attorney or trial consultant led discussions about social issues or legal cases. Mock trials often ask participants to think of themselves as to be jury members deliberating on an issue.

While there may be several focus groups about a single topic there is typically only one mock trial which is split into smaller groups for discussion and deliberation.  Focus groups usually have 8-12 participants a mock trial will have 18-45. Because there tends to be multiple focus groups about one topic the total number of recruits is comparable.

No matter the number, we gather recruits for all types of group discussions of any kind in a similar way. Recruiting is completed in house either via random calling, client lists, or from our database. Project details are often confidential. No participant is allowed to talk about the details of their focus group outside the room, they also are asked to take the further step of signing a confidentiality agreement to participate in research.

The time we spend recruiting all depends on the specific screening requirements of the group and for whom we are working. Focus groups take approximately 24-200 hours of calling to recruit an entire project (which may include multiple groups) while mock trials tend to take 120-250 hours.

When a client asks to compare demographics such as location or jobs of participants multiple focus groups may take place at various locations or times. These comparison groups can take place at one of our two professional focus group facilities, a hotel, event center, or anywhere else. Groups at our professional focus groups facilities have pre-setup recording equipment, one-way mirrors and CCTV to client rooms for live viewing and archival purposes and access to any materials we may need unexpectedly. Groups off-site, at a hotel for example, mimic the experience of our facilities. While we can’t mimic the one-way glass we always set up a client room for group viewing via CCTV and provide a similar hosting experience for optimal client comfort and viewing. For both types of groups participants are paid for their time.

Really, focus groups and mock trials are essentially the same; just sometimes we call them by different names.

Come back in two weeks when we’ll talk about where we do research.