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March 1st, 2019

Focus Groups

With Children

For clients whose products or services are designed for children, hosting focus groups among them can be as insightful as traditional groups among adults. However, when participants are children, certain challenges exist and the following should be kept in mind:


Consent required: 

According to the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association’s code of conduct, “children” are defined as persons thirteen years old or younger, and the consent of a parent, legal guardian or otherwise legally authorized adult is required before including them in the research process.


Shorter durations:

Children have shorter attention spans than adults, and each qualitative session should be an hour at most for the upper end of this age group (11 to 14), and even less for those ten and under. Generally speaking, our recommendation for optimal results is to restrict each qualitative session with children to thirty minutes.


Smaller group size:

While the typical focus group recruits twelve people and then includes eight for the session, smaller group sizes are advised for children. To this point, it is best if six children are recruited per group and this be the maximum size of the group. Turning children away is discouraged so recruiting six means that if everyone shows up, the dynamics of the groups will still be easy to manage and no child has to be left out.


Segment by gender and age:

Focus groups with adults can often include a mix of genders, and a large age range, but the opposite is true of children. It is best to separate boys and girls at this age as the presence of the opposite gender can induce shyness, increase distraction, or lower rates of engagement. By the same token, even just a few years difference in age can produce dramatic differences in personality, and as such, it is best to fix each group to a very narrow age range. Typically, we recommend that participants in each group be within two to three years of each other.


Stimuli is essential:

Contrary to adults, who can often entertain two hours of Q&A, children are much quicker to lose interest so it is important that as much stimuli be included as possible. Whether this be multimedia, brand assets, or group exercises, stimuli should be included to maximize the level of involvement and stave off boredom or distraction.


If you are interested in hosting focus groups among children, please contact Christine Melançon (

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