Focus groups in Korea: dos and don’ts

Over the years, at Astrid Global we have managed plenty of focus groups for foreign companies. Focus groups are a great way to do market research, get a glimpse of the Korean market and understand whether your potential Korean clients or users understand and like your products before launching them. However, one needs to follow some common and not so common sense:


  1. Paying: not too little, not too much.
    No matter if your target customers are children, teenage students, housewives, businessmen or retirees, you need to pay for their time if you want to know their opinion. Being stingy with a focus group is not a good decision, but don’t be too generous as you would attract too much interest. A fee of 100,000 won per 2 hours is quite standard for a 2 hours focus group.
  2. Divide groups by ages, if possible.
    Age matters a lot to Koreans and it’s a variable that will affect the interaction in the focus group. In Korean culture, young people have to show respect to older people. One way to show respect is often not questioning their statements, even if they go against what they believe. Mixing ages creates a certain tension within the group. If possible divide the focus group into smaller groups by age.
  3. Encourage critical thinking.
    Some participants tend to please the organizer by reacting positively to anything that is discussed. One needs to take this into account and introduce techniques to prevent a lack of honesty from the participants. A great way to encourage critical thinking is through a variety of exercises at the beginning of the focus group.
  4. Ask specific questions.
    Don’t expect open discussions will naturally flow and cover all your points. Have a script with open and closed questions and moderate the discussion.
  5. Encourage participation.
    It’s very likely you will have a variety of personalities in your group. Some participants may be shy and afraid to speak in public unless you actually encourage them to talk. Address them by name in a friendly manner and encourage them to speak out their mind.

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