What is a Marketing Research Test Group Membership?

Focus groups, also known as product testing groups or marketing research groups, are a great way to be part of the industrial testing field. 

Consumers are needed to test, examine, read, and try out a wide variety of foods, products, and advertisements. Focus groups generally pay you very handsomely on an hour-by hour basis. For instance, being paid $60 for 90 minutes of your time is like making $40 an hour–so while you may only work for an hour or two for each marketing research job, the handsome pay is worth your time.

There are no set standards for focus group pay, and many focus group companies will also give free products (or, rarely, only free products). 

But here are some guidelines for focus group pay in the various areas where focus groups are used:

Construction: $50 to $250
Food: Free products to $90
Products: Free products to $100
Online Juries and Trials: $10 to $150
Cosmetics: Free products to $60
Advertising: $25 to $150
Kid Items: Free products to $120
Toys and Games: Free Products to $90

These are averages and approximations, though. Each focus group company is different, and each of their clients is different.

The bottom line is that there’s quite a bit of money to be made as a focus group participant. The trick is getting into a focus group.

Here are some key points to consider when searching for positions as a focus group participant:

1. Sign up for as many focus groups as you possibly can. 

Online or in person-whatever it takes, sign up. You can’t get into a focus group if they don’t know about you!

2. Think about how far you’re willing to drive to make $35 vs. $250. 

If you live 2 hours from a major city with a LOT of marketing research companies, it might be worth the drive to make a lot of money-but don’t spend 10 hours to make $30, either. Keep these issues in mind when signing up.

3. Follow the directions when signing up. 

If a company’s website says “online applications only”, do NOT call to apply, or send a snail mail letter. Follow their directions perfectly to increase your chances of getting a call.

4. Answer their questions with an open mind. 

The more information you give them, the better. If they don’t know you drive a Chevy, how will you ever be considered for a focus group for Chevy drivers? Know your comfort zone, and what you will and won’t tell or talk about in a focus group. Remember that they’re looking for certain kinds of people-and they won’t know what kind of person you are if you don’t tell them!

5. Be reasonable. 

Yes, focus groups are looking for your opinion-but they’re not looking for a group of people to nit-pick or rip apart ideas just for the sake of being critical. Market research companies want opinions-not tirades. They want you to be honest and thoughtful-not bossy and dismissive.

6. Be sure you don’t take on more than you can handle. 

Don’t try to schedule too many focus groups on the same week, or try to juggle too much on a focus group day. Sometimes, a 3 hour focus group turns into a 5 hour experience-so always be upfront about your schedule, and what hours you’re available. The worst thing you can do is to call on the day of a focus group to cancel. You will not be called by that company again, and you’ve lost the opportunity to make money and have fun with that company. Of course, if it’s a medical emergency, that’s different-and let them know that. But otherwise, you must be dependable to get plenty of work.

Search for focus groups through Internet search engines, or in your local telephone book under “Marketing Research.”

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