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I'm planning and moderating a series of remote focus groups with people around the world whose native language is not English. Their English speaking abilities will vary. I'm looking for advice regarding planning and hosting a focus group like this, including information about:

  • incentives (how much, what method, which currency)
  • most effective form of communication (oral or written--should I speak or type my questions? Should it be open to oral feedback or written only, similar to webinars?)
  • other considerations I'm not aware of and haven't thought about?

The focus groups will be grouped by region.

Hoping someone can offer some guidance.

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  • My only thought on this is that this is complex. I would do an initial trial on users from a similar time zone, and from a country where users might have a reasonable standard of English and learn from that, before going further afield.
    – PhillipW
    Mar 23 at 13:31
  • Unfortunately, we do not have time for that with our currently aggressive deadline. But I will take your comment into account. Thank you for your feedback!
    – MRL
    Mar 23 at 14:10
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For incentives, Visa gift cards work well in most places around the world. The amount would be based on how much you'd need to spend to get the right participants in each location to sign up. You might want to start with a lower amount and raise it if you're not getting the right people to complete your screening survey.

For language, I would highly recommend hiring a moderator who speaks the language natively, and holding the focus group in the native language. Ideally, your participants are as comfortable as possible in sharing their thoughts, and don't have to think about the right wording in another language.

If it is not possible to have a native language moderator, and you don't need the interaction of a focus group, you could do unmoderated one-on-one QA sessions with written questions in the participant's language, and recorded answers, using a platform such as TryMyUI or other unmoderated testing tools. The participant would control the pace of the conversation.

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Focus groups are a great way to understand your (potential) market and underlying needs. To get honest and in-depth answers it is important that everyone attending is comfortable speaking up. Speaking in your non-native language might restrict this; because someone is uncomfortable in that language, doesn't know the exact words to express or cultural differences such as expressions.

My advice would be to always do a focus group in the participants' native language. There are research agencies in every country that can assist with this. Also with short deadlines. It is better to spend some time and money on reliable results than wasting research time.

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