Focus Groups: How to Improve Products and Earn Money Doing It

BlogHer Original Post

Focus groups are qualitative marketing studies in which participants are asked about their perceptions or attitudes. These market studies are interested in certain demographics for different studies. To evaluate if you qualify for a particular focus group, you usually need to answer questions on your age range, gender, employment, address, etc. Most of the time, moredetails are required. Studies have preliminary surveys that you must fill out to be considered -- these surveys are not paid -- their purpose is to determine your appropriateness for the study.

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Why Focus Groups & How Do They Work?

Why participate in focus groups? Because focus groups are an easy and fun way to make extra cash, especially if you are someone who has a flexible schedule during the week day (for example: college students, retired people, freelancers, job seekers, etc.).

Focus groups look for specific characteristics in their participants. For example, if a pharmaceutical company is running a study on children's aspirin, market researchers may ask for mothers who are between the ages of 24 to 40 with a child who is under the age of 12. A study on high-end cameras might want to have professional photographers who are planning on purchasing a digital SLRcamera in the next 18 months. A lobbying firm conducting research on political affiliation and voter behavior may ask for registered Democrats or Republicans who are in their 30s to 40s.

Once you are in a focus group, you will interact with the market researcher and with other focus group members. You will give your opinion on the product or promotion the researchers wish to evaluate. Focus groups are usually in person, but a minority might be conducted via Internet or over the phone.

 

Where to Find Focus Groups & My Experiences

My favorite source for focus groups is Craigslist, which provides a treasure trove of focus group information. Start by searching for any combination of these terms "focus group," "focus groups," "paid study," "paid market research," "paid marketing study", etc. You can also sign up for focus group companies, such as Focus Foward or Focus Pointe Global, research firms that conduct opinion panels. I joined Focus Pointe Global's mailing list and frequently receive preliminary e-mails where, if I qualify, I will be invited to a paid focus group (haven't been too successful -- my demographic must not be in that high of a demand!)

Other sources for focus groups are in community newspapers and nonprofit organizations. The easiest $80 I made in high school was when I was selected to join a teenager focus group run by a nonprofit organization. This focus group was conducted via phone, so I sat in my pajamas and discussed teen political activism for two hours -- I came away from stimulating conversation with an increased desire to be involved and, a few days later, an $80 check. In the words of my 16-year-old self, "That was sweet!"

More recently, I participated in a study on cell phones for which I spoke with a market researcher about my cell phone purchasing habits and preferences, such as which type of plan I use, who is my carrier, what type of cell phone design I prefer, which features I like (QWERTY keypad, touch pad, sliding screen, etc.). The study took only 30 minutes but netted me $45. 

 

Bottom Line on Focus Groups

If you enjoy sharing your opinion about a particular product or policy, and you like to earn $30-$60 an hour with minimal work, then you will love participating in focus groups.

Relevant Links:13 Quick Ways to Make Easy Money [Bargaineering]

Make Money With Focus Groups [Sun's Financial Diary]

Make Money On Focus Groups [Free Money Finance]

http://wellheeledblog.com http://twitter.com/wellheeledblog Savvy Living Through Personal Finance

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