Focus groups can be a lucrative supplemental income opportunity. I have been participating in focus groups for a few years now and have found them to be an easy way to earn some extra cash for very little work.
Focus Groups: How much can a focus group participant make?
Participant compensation for focus groups depends on the amount of time you are required to spend at the facility, what level of participation is required, and the budget the focus group research team has been given from the sponsoring company.
I make an average of $50/hour when I participate in local focus groups. One research firm that I recently worked for gave an additional bonus for arriving early which was extra incentive to make sure I left the house early to make it to the facility by the specified time.
Focus Groups: What is a focus group like?
When arriving at the focus group location, you’ll be checked in and an employee of the research group will probably sit down and ask you a few questions. This process confirms that you are eligible for the study and ensures that the research project has credible participants.
You may be asked to sign a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement. This is standard and expected as you may be testing or talking about concepts or products that are still in the research and development phase.
The majority of focus groups are recorded with audio and video equipment. You may notice two-way mirrors in the room the focus group takes place in. This is strictly for research purposes, and often there are actual live people behind those mirrors that are observing the group as a whole and taking notes.
The focus groups I have participated in have been small-with less than ten other research subjects. A smaller focus group allows people to feel more comfortable voicing their opinions. Depending on the product or concepts being discussed, you may find yourself in a group with only men or only women.
A moderator will lead the discussion of the focus group to keep the discussion on target and help participants delve deeper into the topic at hand.
Focus Groups: Types of Focus Groups
Focus groups participants may be asked to try sample products, evaluate marketing concepts, or a combination of both. Some focus groups simply want to know the kinds of products you use at home and why. All focus groups expect you to be able to write and speak English fluently and you must feel comfortable talking in front of a group.
Focus Groups: Special Considerations
If you signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement, honor it. You may be excited about the product or concepts you were asked about, but do not discuss what happened in the testing room with anyone.
Also, it is important to note that focus groups are not a full-time income opportunity. Most research firms limit the number of focus groups you can participate in annually. Research firms can also limit your participation if you work with one of their competitors.
Focus Groups: How do I sign up for a focus group?
Sign up with as many research groups in your area if you are interested in participating in a focus group. Expect their questionnaires to ask detailed inquiries about your employment, income, household habits, and personal preferences.
When a focus group becomes available that you are qualified for, you’ll receive a phone call or e-mail from the research firm sponsoring the study. Expect to spend at least ten minutes answering additional questions that confirm your eligibility. If you are accepted for the study, you’ll be given information on compensation and when and where you need to be.