Did you ever hear a statistic in a news or marketing story and think, “I wonder who they asked about that, because they didn’t ask me”? Probably most of us have. But one day soon, those faceless marketers just might be asking you questions…if you’re available to take surveys from them. Here are a few options in that area that you might take advantage of:
The Big Guns
Research firms can be large or small, but chances are you’ve heard of some of the ‘big guns’ that do television (Nielsen, BARB) or consumer ratings (Consumer Reports). If you want to get on their lists, often it’s a simple matter of going to their Web site and filling out a form or two. The plus to doing surveys for some of the biggest names in the business is that they’ll often pay you a nominal sum to participate in their market research.
Don’t get too excited: ads that proclaim that you can make a living just by filling out surveys are usually — to put it kindly — overstating their cases. You don’t generally get rich just for your opinion; you usually can’t live on doing nothing but surveys or studies. But if all you want is to register your opinion, and maybe make a little pin money, these places and surveys might be just right for you.
All kinds of marketing bodies use focus groups: marketing agencies, ad agencies, TV networks, publishing companies, food manufacturers, retailers…you name the question, somebody’s probably doing a focus group on it somewhere. The plus side to these? Once again, something for nothing — you can often get full sizes of new products to try, in exchange for giving your input. You’re often sent the product in question anywhere from two weeks to a month ahead, then given a date, time, and place to show up for the feedback session.
The minus side? You have to get yourself to the focus group site, often during what would normally be your workday — so if you’re employed full-time, you can’t participate in some studies. Sometimes, focus groups meet in ‘virtual’ fashion; you sit at your home computer, watch a video, and then fill out the questions on the spot. But most often, these groups are live and in-person. This can be fun — or feel threatening, depending on if you’re outgoing or shy. Not everyone will agree with your opinion, and they won’t mind telling you why!
Analyzing cookie flavor may not be part of healthcare market research by Gillian Kenny, but it can be a fun activity in its own right.
One input area that’s growing fast is tapping into a fan base — mostly connected with either sports teams or the networks and media that cover them. Check out your favorite sport or team’s fan area and you may be able to participate in forums, comment on blogs, and vote in polls. In addition to this casual approach, many professional sports franchises also offer fans specific sites and questionnaires in which they can offer opinions about sponsors, advertising, team uniform designs, charity functions, and even officiating and refereeing decisions. (Brave souls, those guys.)
The down side? You’re probably not going to eliminate bad calls or change uniform styles all by yourself. The up side? Incentives: drawings for team gear, tickets, memorabilia, or gift cards can be yours if you luck out and win a drawing or contest. At the very least, you get a place to ‘vent’ when things don’t go right — and you might get much more.
Things That Matter
While many of these surveys are strictly for fun, it’s also a good idea to let your voice be heard on serious issues such as economics, politics, or health. Sources such as healthcare market research by Gillian Kenny can help you become informed on these and other issues that directly affect your quality of life. And that’s the best value any market research can provide.