Beyond Babysitting and Lawn Mowing: An Easy Way for Kids to Earn Big Money

Have you ever gotten a phone call from someone who wants your opinion about products or services? Next time, you might not want to hang up.  Legitimate, professional market research companies will pay you and your kids to come to their offices and give your opinions on all kinds of things–and usually, they pay you cash on the spot and not a check that’s mailed later.  Over the last several years, everyone in my family has been a market research participant, and it’s not only a great way to earn money, it’s fun.  I’ve taste-tested tortilla chips, frozen dinners, and orange juice, given my opinions on a local park, and ranked refrigerated biscuit ads, among other things;  my husband has participated in focus groups on oil filters, lawn fertilizer and electric companies, to name a few.  Emmie earned $100 in a kids’ focus group on dolls; Allison did the same in a teen group on cell phone apps.  Together, Emmie and I once earned even more by taste-testing applesauce. 

The How-To-Do-It is simple– just sign up online to be a part of a market research firm’s database (and they’re always looking for more people) and they’ll call and/or email when they have a study or focus group for which you might qualify. After you answer a few questions, you’re given the times/days for the study and if you qualify, you pick a date. (Sometimes, you don’t qualify, for a variety of reasons– you might not be familiar with the product they’re testing or don’t buy it enough even if you are.  Usually, you’re always disqualified if you or a close relative works for an ad agency or market research firm.)  On the designated day, you go to their offices (which, at least for the firms we’ve visited in the Dallas area, are in very nice office buildings) and spend about an hour, sometimes more or less depending on the study.  Some even give bonuses if you arrive early to your appointment (and yes, shockingly, we actually have, at least once!!).

The firms we’ve worked with are Focus Pointe Global, Peryam and Kroll, and Savitz Field and Focus.  Focus Pointe has locations in 11 U.S. cities (
www.focuspointeglobal.com); Peryam and Kroll (www.pktesting.com) is in four– Chicago, Dallas (Plano), Santa Ana, CA and White Plains, NY; and Savitz (www.savitzfieldandfocus.com) has more than 25 locations, including Phoenix, Des Moines and Boston.  A friend recommends Bryles Research (www.brylesresearch.com)– they’re in Dallas, Chicago, and Springfield, Missouri. While smaller towns don’t have these companies, they just might have their own local or regional version, and it’s worth web surfing to find out. 

For kids, it’s worth it because the pay is good for a minimal amount of effort and time (not to mention that paid jobs for kids are often hard to come by), and it’s also worth it because they get a bit of knowledge about the world of market research, something they’ll probably be coming into contact with again if they major in business, marketing, advertising, communications– even law.   If they get to preview a product that hasn’t hit the market yet, they also get some satisfaction when they eventually see it in stores and in ads: “Hey, look, Mom– I helped make that happen!”

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