Thursday, May 28, 2009

A little extra cash

I don’t know how many focus groups I’ve done in the past 8 years. I’ve discussed diapers and baby wipes. Snack foods, salad dressing, and frozen entrees. Shampoo. Herbal supplements. I’ve had people come to my house and show me a plastic wagon (Radio Flyer style). I’ve had people come to my house and look at my hair. I’ve been mailed samples to try. I’ve been interviewed in groups, large and small, and individually.

I’ve been paid $100 for 20 minutes. I’ve been paid $60 for 45 minutes. I’ve been paid just for showing up. I’ve had to take used diapers back to the office in a big bag to prove I didn’t turn over the product secrets to the competition. I’m not allowed to talk about the potential products. It feels like being an industrial spy, except the pay isn’t nearly as good.

Lately I’d say I’ve been doing one study every other month or so. It’s obviously easy bucks for little effort. Many are in the evening when child care isn’t a problem. Today I did one downtown after work, so I just had to walk over a few blocks.

What’s somewhat surprising is that we hardly ever get to see an actual product. It’s more “Does this ad work? How about this wording? Would you try a product flavored with whale poop? Why or why not?”

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