The success of a focus group depends on a number of factors, and timing is one of the most important. The right timing for your focus group can significantly reduce no-shows and drop-outs, ensure higher energy and engagement levels among participants, and make the recruitment process smoother.

Focus Groups - When Is the Best Time

The right timing can create an environment where participants are more willing and able to share their thoughts, leading to richer, more insightful discussions. Conversely, poor timing can result in low attendance, disengagement, and ultimately, a waste of resources.

Days of the week

Choosing the right days of the week is crucial when scheduling a focus group. Each day has its own advantages and disadvantages:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are usually considered the best days for focus groups. On these days, participants are usually settled into their week but not yet tired.

Mondays can be challenging as participants catching up from the weekend and dealing with the start of their work week.

Fridays can be challenging as participants are winding down and preparing for the weekend, often resulting in lower engagement.

Weekends: While weekends may seem convenient for participants who are off work, they often prefer to spend this time with family or on personal activities. This can lead to higher dropout rates.

Time of day

The time of day the focus group is held can have a significant impact on participation and the quality of the insights gathered:

Evening: The best time for focus groups is between 5pm and 9pm. This timeframe allows participants to finish work, attend to any immediate personal commitments, and then join the session. However, scheduling after 9pm should be avoided as participants tend to be tired, which can affect their levels of engagement.

This time frame allows you to run multiple sessions, for example 5pm-6:30pm and 7pm-8:30pm.

Afternoon: This can be a sweet spot, especially for participants with flexible schedules. However, post-lunch fatigue can sometimes affect engagement and creativity.

Morning: While some participants may be more alert in the morning, many are busy with their daily routines, commuting or starting their work day.

Special events

Scheduling focus groups around major events can be tricky. It’s important to avoid conflicts with:

Sporting events: Major events such as the FIFA World Cup, Euro, the Super Bowl or other nationally popular sporting events can significantly reduce attendance. One such recent example of this was during the Ice Hockey World Cup Final in the Czech Republic held earlier this year, none of the confirmed respondents joined the planned Czech focus group and everyone watched the gold medal game.

Cultural events: Religious holidays, festivals, and major cultural events can also negatively affect participation.

Public holidays: People are likely to be travelling or have family commitments, so participation rates tend to be low.


The time of year can also affect the success of your focus group:

Busy seasons: Some professions have busy seasons when it’s harder for participants to commit. For example, accountants are particularly busy at the end of the financial year.

Weather considerations: Severe weather, depending on your location, can affect participation in online focus groups due to internet or power outages.

Tips for determining the best time for your target audience

Based on general trends and preferences, here is a summary of recommendations for scheduling focus groups:

  • Best days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday in most cases
  • Best time: between 5pm to 9pm (2 sessions)
  • When recruiting, ask potential participants about their availability, try to offer two or three time options. This will help you identify times that are convenient for the majority.
  • Over-recruit slightly to allow for last-minute drop-outs.
  • Send reminders to participants or call them to ensure they remember and prioritise the session. Include the day and time in the email subject so it’s clearly visible.
  • By paying close attention to these factors, you can increase the likelihood of a successful focus group that yields valuable insights. Timing is a critical component that, if carefully considered, can improve participation, engagement and the overall quality of your research.

We would love to hear your experiences in the comments below. 😊