Whatever your opinion on its’ many hometown heroes, the Windy City is definitely an All-American city.
From the birthplace of stylized pizza and hotdogs, classic (and modern) gangsters to the Sears Tower… those who visit Chicago experience America as we know it.
And what’s more American than a side-hustle? According to Side Hustle Nation, almost half of all working Americans have a side hustle, with numbers steadily increasing.
Here at Stan’s Gigs, our hustle of choice is participating in focus groups. They’re fun, easy, and relatively lucrative, if you know where to look. And if you don’t, you’re in luck! Every week we highlight the best focus groups in major cities across the U.S. and Canada.
We kept you waiting this long for Chicago, so we won’t make you endure another minute! Keep reading to learn how to earn an extra night out at Portillo’s every week.
Studies you can participate in
Companies that call Chicago their home are great indicators of what to expect from research companies, but they’re not the end all be all. These are some of the most popular companies headquartered in the Chi:
For a city with so much soul, Chicago’s corporate scene doesn’t really reflect that. Luckily, this list doesn’t determine your only options for companies looking for market research. As you’ll see below, there are some pretty exciting opportunities to look forward to.
Online focus groups that are worth checking out
Online focus groups provide a great balance to traditional studies. Sign up for a few of these online companies to broaden your options and chances of participating in studies. They might not be as exciting as in-person studies, but they are a great default when the study well is dry.
is a leader in the market research space. No wonder, with over 3 million users and a constant stream of studies, we would sign up here first.
Qualification: Residents of the USA and be at least 14 to join.
offers a mobile app so you can complete surveys on the go! Now you don’t have to stare blankly at your phone to avoid small talk waiting for the CTA.
Qualification: Residents of USA 16+ only.
runs on the more professional side, but is checking out if you have the skills or specialized knowledge they look for! Pay ranges from $20 to $150.
Qualification: Residents of USA, Canada, UK and Australia. Must be 18+.
4. Branded Surveys
offers cash and gift cards as incentives for completing a wide offering of surveys and focus groups. Collect rewards through e-gift cards, pre-paid credit cards, or PayPal.
Qualification: Residents of USA 14+
5. Toluna Influencers
allows you to practice your influencer game with video surveys and solicitations from national brands like Amazon & L’Oreal. Payment can be redeemed once you earn $10.
Qualification: Residents of USA must be 14+
Top 5 Market Research Companies in Chicago
Chicago is the only city so far where we had such a wide picking of market research companies to choose from. Not to start a war or anything, but you even beat New York (at least in terms of focus group options)! Of course, that only made it harder to choose a top 5. We did our best.
1. Alder Weiner:
Alder Weiner is located in the John Hancock Center, in the same plaza as 360 Chicago. This firm serves companies looking for consumers & healthcare professionals.
As a consumer, you can participate in focus groups, shop alongs, one-on-one interviews, and even in-home interviews where a moderator comes to your home (talk about convenience!).
Generally, you can expect the studies to run up to 2 hours, and they pay in cash.
Fill out a simple form (not very qualifying), will call to notify/qualify you when the studies come. They also post opportunities on Facebook, where they have 6k likes. They also boast 4 stars on Yelp and an A+ rating on BBB.
2. Consumer Product Dynamics:
Calling all foodies, this company based in Orland Park and offers everything food! Tastings, pop-ups, food trucks, you name it, you can offer your well-earned expertise.
And don’t worry, they aren’t looking for culinary artists. On their fun and interactive website, they assure that they target the average but passionate lover of food culture.
Studies vary widely in pay and time commitment. If you’re a parent, they also offer children studies for mini-foodies over 5.
With 4.7 reviews on Facebook and the promise of free food, I can’t really see the downside.
Sign up to create a profile and receive email invitations.
3. Recruit & Field:
For consumers, this is maybe the most exciting opportunity. Covering almost every industry, Recruit & Field has worked with giants such as:
(Remember we told you all hope is not lost!)
You can participate in a large variety of studies including focus groups, phone interviews, online surveys, and product testing.
They are located right outside of the loop off of Michigan & Van Buren.
Complete a simple form to sign up.
4. watchLAB Studios:
Located in Downtown Chicago about a block from the Richard H. Driehaus Musem, watchLAB is hot on the scene.
They boast over 10k likes on FB, 4.5 stars on Google, but have Yelpers confused with (2.5 stars) mixed reviews. Still, they seem to be a popular choice among Chicagoans.
They seem like a straight shooter kind of company. Their site does a good job at laying out expectations & has frequently asked questions right on the sign-up page.
Once you sign-up, you will receive studies that best suit you. You must then qualify for each study to receive an invitation by phone.
5. Act One Research:
Act One is a smaller research firm, but they offer a wide range of studies to participate in, including focus groups, in-home interviews, taste tests, one-on-one interviews, shop-along interviews, and online assignments.
Act One currently has about 2k likes on Facebook, and not much presence elsewhere. However, they are actively running studies (one on whiskey!) so they are nothing to sneeze at.
Create a profile through the sign-up form, and they will reach out with relevant studies via email.
Other Great Focus Group Companies in Chicago
There are great national companies that ranked top 5 in many of our other roundups that didn’t make it on to our top 5 this time. We wanted to honor the ‘Chicago-Style’ precedent by highlighting smaller, local companies worth your time. Definitely check this list for some reputable choices if the others aren’t your forte.
Fieldwork – 111 E Wacker Dr #200, Chicago, IL 60601
Schlesinger Group – 625 N Michigan Ave #2600, Chicago, IL 60611
C&C Market Research – 266-d Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, IL 60148
Opinions LTD – 604 Orland Square Dr.Suite F01E, Orland Park, IL 60462
While sorting through the countless options in Chicago, some came up that were a bit hard to validate. We found quite a few blackboxes, which you can read more about here.
We save these companies for last: for the bravest, most enduring souls to conquer. Dramatics aside, call these companies up or stop by to see if you have any more luck than we do!
Good luck favors the bold, or whatever the saying is.
FOCUSCOPE, INC. – 515 N State St #2640, Chicago, IL 60654
Shapiro+Raj – 153 W Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60654
Focus Centre of Chicago – 211 E Ontario St #400, Chicago, IL 60611
MFORCE Research – 4043 N Ravenswood Ave #301, Chicago, IL 60613
Smith Research Inc – 150 E Huron St Suite #1010, Chicago, IL 60611
Media Science – 8 W Monroe St, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60603
That’s a wrap for our top 5 choices for focus groups in Chicago, as well as some notable alternatives that are definitely worth trying out.
If you have a strong opinion about focus groups… NOT The Cubs vs. White Sox, please comment below. We’d love to hear if you tried any of the groups we listed!