Anyone who has ever witnessed a focus group has encountered “that loud and dominating participant.” The one that we, as moderators, are instantly asked to quiet down in order to make room for the other participants. The one that we, in the name of methodology and validity, cannot allow to influence the opinions of the other participants.
But does he really deserve his bad reputation? Or is he, in fact, an important part of the process?
Doesn’t he represent the type of argumentation and influencing of opinions, that we – even the quieter among us – encounter all the time?
We think that the dominant focus group participant is a gift to the process. Because he is just as influential and dominant around the dinner table, among his colleagues, and when he is drinking beers with his friends.
He is the one whom people look at and listen to. And as a focus group moderator we need him, because he gives us an insight into which arguments prevail in specific cases – and which do not.