Online surveys are a great way to earn some extra cash, but there is another type of market research that can be interesting, enjoyable, and has a significantly higher paycheque at the end of your contribution.
Focus groups in Australia are a type of paid market research that allow you to share your thoughts face to face, give more detailed opinions, and get rewarded for your part in influencing brands and services that you love.
Let’s have a look at why you should participate in a focus group, and where you can register your interest.
What is a paid focus group?
We’ve all heard of marketing disasters; or seen products make a short debut on our shelves, only to be given discount stickers and moved to the bargain bin before slowly disappearing.
What sounds good in a boardroom might not work in real life. That’s where you come in.
To quickly survey a lot of different people to gauge their reactions, many companies use paid surveys to get a broad overview of public perception.
However, most surveys are relatively short, don’t pay much, and don’t encourage discussion.
Focus groups get real people into a room (or an online discussion) to talk about a product or service relating to their brand.
While surveys can include thousands of people, focus groups are usually much smaller.
The setting encourages natural discussion, which brings out ideas and thoughts that would be very hard to achieve using a standard survey.
How do they work?
Traditionally, focus groups are held in-person at an agreed location.
These days, especially after COVID-19, there are plenty of online options. They both work in basically the same way.
Participants register their interest with a market research company and include some details about themselves.
If those profile answers match any studies, applicants will be sent further screening questions to make sure they’re suitable.
If those details match the requirements for a study (say, a young mum or dad with a baby might fit the brief and be asked to participate in a focus group about nappies), the person will be issued an invite, and is usually able to choose from a number of dates and times.
For an in-person focus group, the participant will have to travel to a location in their city.
They sign in, sit in a room with the other people chosen to participate, and answer questions as directed by the person hosting the discussion.
These discussions have a set time (usually 1-2 hours), and usually provide basic refreshments. If the focus group is based on a product, there might be samples to comment on, or it could just be a chat as led by the host.
For an online focus group, the same basic format applies, except participants might have their discussion during a chat group or video call.
Once the focus group has come to an end, participants are often given their compensation before they leave, or arrangements are made to send payment.
The payment amount and method of payment is included in the focus group invitation, so you’ll know how much you’re being offered and can decide whether it’s worth it to participate.
Very often focus groups are worth participating in, because they tend to offer anywhere from $50-$200 and sometimes even more.
The payment could be in cash, but often gift cards are offered.
For some focus groups (especially where product trials are involved, such as taste testing a new product) the product is the payment. You can decide if it’s worth your time to participate.
Where can I sign up?
There are market research groups in every major city in Australia.
But if you don’t live in a major city, don’t despair – it’s worth mentioning that many of these companies operate outside their city as well, many offer online options, and there are national groups you can participate in.
Even people living in rural areas can score the odd in-person opportunity, and online groups are a great option.
While it’s best to limit the number of survey sites you sign up for so the survey invites aren’t overwhelming, Australian focus groups don’t offer many opportunities so it’s best to sign up for as many as possible.
Like anything on the internet, just check they’re legit before you give your details.
Some great options for Australian paid focus groups are:
Taking part in studies with User Interviews can be a great way to make extra income by sharing your life experience and professional expertise.
User Interviews have recently started recruiting in Australia after many successful years running online focus groups and market research in the United States and the United Kingdom.
You don’t need to have a professional career to become a panelist. I found a study on their website aimed at parents seeking to help children make good choices. This study was paying over $300.
At the other end of the scale is a task paying $10 for a 10 minute online interview about kids snack habits so there really is something for everyone.
Requirements vary but in most instances you’ll need a computer with webcam to participate. Payment is made using either PayPal or Amazon Gift Cards within ten business days of completing your session.
Other good options include:
- Purple Corp
- Focus People – they offer opportunities in regional and even rural areas, as well as cities.
- Stable Research
- Respondent (Geared towards professionals who have specific industry knowledge – if you qualify, the groups tend to pay more).
- Sydney Focus Groups – Despite the name, they have focus groups around Australia.
- Real Time Research
- Farron Research
- Action Market Research.
- Social Research Centre
- Research Network – Offering remote online interviews from 60 – 90 mins and diary studies Australia wide.
Each market research company will have different studies, so it’s best to sign up to see what opportunities you might be offered.
Paid for your opinion
Focus groups are an open secret – many people don’t know about them, but those that do love the opportunity to be paid to talk about something that interests them.
And the pay is not insignificant – while surveys often have you counting cents, a focus group is likely to pay you over $50 for an hour or two of your time.
Like all market research, participating in paid focus groups isn’t going to become a career option – it’s likely your invitations will be infrequent.
But as a side hustle, participating in paid market research is a fantastic way to get out, chat about products and services that are relevant to you, and get paid.