How Much Do Focus Groups Pay? More Than You Think
Focus groups are a great way to make money on the side and supplement your income. They usually only take an hour or two of your time, and they’re incredibly easy to participate in — you’re just giving your opinion on a product/service/message.
There are many different focus groups, and how you get paid/how much you get paid can vary significantly.
Generally speaking, a focus group can pay anywhere from $20 to $1,000, but the usual range is between $100 and $200 — focus groups that pay $1,000 are very rare.
This usually only takes an hour or two of your time, though it’s possible that a focus group can take several mornings/afternoons over the course of a few days.
It all depends on the type of focus group you’re in and the information the focus group provider is trying to collect.
Before you throw yourself into the focus group world, there are a few things you need to know.
What a Focus Group Is and Different Types of Focus Groups
When most people think about focus groups, they think about what they’ve seen on TV or in a movie — a group of people sitting around a table giving their opinions on some sort of product or service or idea.
While that’s definitely one type of focus group, there are actually many different types of focus groups. Here are a few of them and how they work.
The Traditional Focus Group
This is where 8–12 people sit around a table and discuss a product/service/brand message. They can even be used to test an argument that might be used in court. They’re run by a moderator (or sometimes several moderators) whose job is to keep people on topic.
There are actually several different types of traditional focus groups. For example, you can have two different groups, one of whom discusses a topic while the other group listens to them and then gives their own feedback on what the first group talked about.
Another type of traditional focus group has one member of the group act as a moderator instead of using a professional moderator. There are even focus groups where the client who is paying for the focus group participates without the other members of the focus group being aware of it.
It all depends on the goals of the focus group.
Shop Alongs and Ethnographies
These types of focus groups are designed to get a deeper look into the thoughts and reasoning of a single person. A shop along is just what it sounds like — you go shopping at a store (you’re given a stipend that you can spend), and a researcher goes along with you.
You’re encouraged to talk about your experience as you shop so that the researcher can understand, for example, why you picked one product over another, or why you decided to buy a particular product so quickly.
Ethnographies are essentially the same — a researcher follows you around while you do something you would normally do anyway and records what you do. However, ethnographies can include more than a researcher watching you shop — they might watch you assemble a product, for example, or cook some food.
Either of these can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.
One-on-One Interviews and Dyads/Triads
In one-on-one interviews, a researcher either visits you at home or talks to you online via software like Zoom to get an in-depth look into your thoughts about a topic. They might last anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes.
Dyads and triads are exactly the same as one-on-one interviews except that they include two or three people. Sometimes the groups know each other — for example, they might interview a few people from a single family — and sometimes they don’t.
How You Get Paid for Focus Groups
Once you’ve completed a focus group, you’ll get paid — usually sooner rather than later, and sometimes as soon as the focus group is concluded. In other cases, it might take 10 business days or longer for you to get paid. It all depends on the type of focus group and how the focus group provider runs the focus groups.
How you get paid can differ from one type of focus group to the next, and it often depends on what they have you doing.
For example, in a traditional focus group, you’ll probably get paid with cash or a check. If you’re doing a shop along, you might get a stipend up front to pay for the items you purchase, or you might only get reimbursed after the fact.
This is actually pretty common for mystery shopping — you’ll have to purchase your own meal, for example, and then you’ll get reimbursed for the meal afterward along with your pay.
Other focus groups will pay well but only pay in gift cards. There may be many different gift cards available from many different stores, but not everyone wants gift cards.
In still other cases, you might not get paid cash at all but rather might be paid with a product. For example, you might get early access to a product that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy.
Depending on the focus group and where it’s located, you may also be reimbursed for a flight or a hotel room. If you’re part of a hard-to-reach demographic, like a driver of a specific luxury car, then many focus groups will likely be willing to do this.
All in all, there are many ways to get paid to do a focus group, so find one that you’re interested in and apply!
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