Are Focus Groups Worth It? Weighing the Pros & Cons

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I get the question all the time: are focus groups ACTUALLY worth my time? I understand the skepticism. There’s a lot of (bad) information out there and if you got burned in the past with only a quarter to show for an hour of your time taking online surveys… 

Been there, done that. Luckily, those days are long gone since I learned how to scope out quality in-person focus groups.

Don’t get me wrong – online surveys aren’t all bad either. In fact, we recommend them quite often. They are a great way to make some super easy money, but they definitely aren’t the best bang for your buck.

In the realm of market research, focus groups are still the cream of the crop in terms of the quality of your experience. Sure, they’re not perfect. In my opinion, though, they’re the best side-hustle around. I weigh the pros and cons below so you can make an informed decision on if focus groups are worth it.

Keep reading to find out if focus groups are the right gig for you!

Pros of Focus Groups

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‘What’d you do this weekend, Stan?’ 

  • Oh not much, I talked about a new product coming out with a couple of cool people, then bought lunch and a spontaneous ticket to tonight’s game with the money.

Doesn’t that sound like an interesting way to spend the day? That’s the reality of focus groups. There’s a lot more where that comes from: let’s talk about it.

Focus groups are lucrative

Focus groups offer pretty decent compensation, on average. I see most firms offering $75-200 per study, depending on the length and content of the group. Of course, this is mid-range with rewards going below and above that range.

Most studies we recommend are pretty true within that range, though. Considering most focus groups last 1-3 hours, you can make upwards of $50 per hour! That’s a rate better than most day jobs.

If you are a specialist or have a certain experience that a firm is recruiting, you can capitalize on extra bucks. Medical and professional studies tend to pay more than general consumer studies.

They’re fun!

Yeah, I hear you, no one is signing up for focus groups for their well-being, but if you’re going to trade your time for money, you might as well enjoy it, right? Unlike the other ‘easiest’ side-hustles, focus groups aren’t dry as dust (looking at you, data entry)!

Focus groups are interactive, and you just sit around and talk about your thoughts. There are no tricks or pressure, really. The hardest part is getting there!

I’ve met some great people from focus groups and the moderators are usually great at keeping the conversation interesting and relatable. Here’s an article on how to find good moderators. . Plus, there are usually some tasty snacks and refreshments to keep you entertained!

Make an impact

The purpose of focus groups is for companies to gain valuable insights on how to make their product better or more marketable to the public. By sharing your thougths you can directly influence your local community – and even the national marketplace!

Focus groups can be about anything from movies to products to public policy – so the sky really is the limit in how you can make your voice heard and effect change.

Cons of Focus Groups

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Focus groups are a fun, easy way to make money, but they do take a little bit of work. After all, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So I guess having an asterisk is not such a bad thing after all. It helps to legitimize the opportunity, right?

I definitely think the pros outweigh the cons here, but that’s for you to decide!

Involved qualification process

With in-person focus groups, the hard work is frontloaded. When you sign up for a focus group (more on that process here), you’ll probably have to take at least 2-3 mini-surveys either online or via phone before you are officially accepted into the study.

Market research firms do this to ensure they are recruiting the target audience that the brand is trying to reach. It can definitely be frustrating, especially if you don’t get into the study. However, after the first couple of times this happens you will develop intuition on which studies you will qualify for and it’s easier to make educated guesses on which are worth going for.

Disqualification is part of the natural process, though.

Learn how to avoid scams

Outright scams may not be as common as they were a few years ago, but even some legit companies have red flags you should look out for. A few common ones are:

  • Slow payments
  • Irrelevant emails/spam
  • Never qualifying for studies

Make sure to vet a firm thoroughly before you register for any paid studies. Yelp, Google, and Facebook are all good places to get feedback on whether a company is legit or any red flags you may encounter.

Check out the ranking criteria that we use for our blog.

Sporadic opportunity pool

Perhaps the biggest argument against focus groups as a side-hustle is that they are inconsistent. Due to the nature of market research, you can’t rely on one outlet all the time. 

Some firms will limit your participation to every 3-6 months to ensure quality participants. Some firms will only recruit for a couple of studies a month. Counteract this by signing up with multiple market research firms and explore various types of studies and focus groups.

Still, even if you land one focus group a month that’s potentially an extra $150-200 in your pocket! That’s a pretty good return for about 3 hours of your time, including the qualification process.

Final Thoughts

Companies pay consumers like me and you to give our opinion on products and services they sell. Of course, they expect that this feedback will make them a lot of money, so they are willing to pay us in exchange for that value.

Focus groups are one of the best side-hustles because they require no prior experience or ‘insider knowledge’ to get started. All you need is a bit of patience, really (pretty much all the cons are time-related).

So… what do you think? Does getting paid $75 an hour to share your opinion sound nice to you? Is it too much of a hassle? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

Till payday!

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