Take part in market research projects, sharing your views and expertise in return for a financial reward...
Want to earn extra cash by sharing your opinions and insights?
Discover the different types of market research projects you can get paid to participate in and the best companies to sign up with for market research work. From online surveys to focus groups, find out how you can turn your voice into cash with our comprehensive guide.
Taking part in market research projects can be a good way to earn some extra cash in your spare time. Taking part in market research studies has become a popular side hustle for many people to earn some extra money. There are so many projects on the go at any given time and an ever-increasing number of companies looking for people's expertise, so the chances are that you will be able to find a project pretty quickly, especially if you are new to taking part in projects, (the market research project companies do like getting new applicants, as they like people who aren't used to the interview format)
So, what is a market research project?
A market research project is an 'interview' between you and at least one other person, usually a market researcher, where you will be asked a selection of questions, usually geared towards a specific subject, in which you may or may not have some experience. The person you are talking to may be a representative of the market research company who has been given a list of specific questions to ask you, or they could be a part of the company/organisation that wants to find out about your views.
The length of the project will vary; it could just be a few minutes, an hour, or perhaps a whole weekend; they differ massively, and so does the hourly rate of pay, depending on how much time you will need to spend taking part in it.
The research project will typically take place in one of the following ways:
You will have a one-on-one conversation with a researcher there listening in, perhaps with other people listening in. Phone interviews are a less obtrusive type of interview than other interview methods, as it's just a chat on the phone, although be aware these and most interviews will be recorded somehow.
One On One Meeting, In Person
Since Covid became a thing, one-on-one meetings, where you go to a specific location or the researcher attends in-home interviews, were a popular way to conduct a research session. These days, these are much rarer, but are do still take place. These are often video or audio recorded, or a note-taker may be present. These can often be conducted at an organisation's offices, but I have taken part in several held in coffee shops or other public places.
Group Meeting/Focus Groups
Due to COVID-19, the in-person focus groups (people being interviewed face to face in groups), all in one physical location, have reduced massively but are still conducted online. This type of research study involves several respondents meeting up in one place and taking part in a group discussion, where a researcher will talk to you as a group and try and obtain information from you collectively. This method used to be very popular for product sampling, such as new foods or drink products, as you all get to try it out and then give instant feedback. These days, this type of study has moved to online focus groups, and these focus group participants will use conferencing software, such as Zoom or possibly a mobile app, to answer various questions and give their individual and group opinions about a subject or product. IDR Medical offers a comprehensive, in-depth guide on the nature and methods of focus groups, so if you are interested, you can read more on their website so that you're familiar with the process should you decide to participate in one yourself.
Online research studies are now the most common types of ways for market researchers to conduct a study, as it's an easy way for researchers to conduct in-person studies with a market research participant, much in the same way as a telephone interview, where study participants will have one-on-one video calls with the researcher in a chat room set up via an app like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. You would need to access a computer/device with a webcam facility and microphone. You may be required to connect via a PC or laptop, as you may be asked to test drive some prototypes, which may not work on a phone or tablet. You will usually be advised of this during the application process for the project.
You will typically be speaking to one person but may find several people on the chat, all of whom may ask you a question, and they may or may not be visible! By this, I mean that you may see one person on the screen but will notice several other names on the chat who are watching but not participating directly with you.
Online chats are almost always recorded, so you need to accept that your image and voice will be recorded and may be viewed by many people at some point!
Sampling At Home
Some of the best projects are sampling projects. These can consist of food and drink taste tests; sometimes, you try out beauty products, or you might be sent out products such as electrical equipment, cookware, furniture or perhaps gardening equipment, and these free products will be sent to your home, and you get to try them out and see what you think of them, and then once complete, you will be asked questions about your thoughts on the product, either in a one to one, chat format or by filling out a form online. This is popular with big brands as a way to test out new products via product trials, where research participants can give feedback on what they like or don't like about a product, which is invaluable for the brand.
If you want to get involved in this kind of sampling, the best program for this is Try It Sampling by Bazaarvoice, however, they aren't taking on new reviewers because they are in the process of teaming up with another review-based sampling service called Infleunster and this does allow new members to join, and is well worth joining, which is free, as you never what you might get to review and keep! You can sign up to Infleunster HERE
How Much Can I Earn?
The reward you will receive for your participation will vary per project, usually depending on:
How specialist are you? - Is it a highly specialised subject that not many people will be suitable for? If so, your reward may be far higher than other projects. Business professionals may be paid more for a study due to their experience and knowledge of a particular subject matter.
How long is the project going to take? Most take an hour or so, but longer or shorter projects will be rewarded differently - the longer it takes, generally, the more you earn. Some paid focus groups can be 2 to 3 hours long, a recent one I took part in with four participants was under 30 minutes and worked out at the equivalent of £150 an hour!
The type of project - If you need to travel to a location to part, this will be rewarded higher than a project conducted over the phone.
So in regards to pay, you are generally paid per project, so a set amount to take part, not by the hour.
As a rough guide to a project, when split down into the number of minutes the project takes to complete, I would say between 50p and 75p per minute is about accurate. However, this can vary massively (this is just from my personal experience).
For example, an hour-long project paying you £40 would work out at about 66p per minute as your reward for a standard interview conducted online. An interview where you need to travel, or the subject is very specialised, can increase dramatically; I've seen VERY specialised projects paying around £300-£500 for a 90-minute interview with an expert in their field. If you are taking a project about if you like the taste of a new soup flavour, you are very unlikely to be offered big money!
How do I get paid?
The payment method will vary from project to project. A bank or PayPal transfer is a very popular payment choice in market research projects. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can sign up for free HERE. Payment by gift cards is also a very popular way to pay out your reward, and you will normally be sent a link to choose what sort of voucher you would like to be paid with from a selection and usually vouchers from big brand companies such as Amazon, Argos, Tesco etc. It's worth mentioning that payment by gift card is still classed as revenue by the HMRC, and so if you earn over £1,000 over a year taking part in market research or any other side hustle where you are paid or if you already have to submit tax returns yearly, you will need to declare the gift cards on your tax return, as the HMRC do class this as taxable revenue, no matter what sort of gift card you choose.
You may find some projects are advertised as paid in US Dollars, as many of the market research companies are based in the States. You can still take part in these studies; these are typically paid via PayPal, and you can use PayPal to change the currency to £GBP. The amount you will receive will vary from day to day, depending on the currency exchange rate at the time. When choosing which project to apply for, you need to remember that a $40 project is around £29, so not necessarily as high of a reward.
That said, most US projects pay around $1 per minute, so it's a pretty similar payout to the UK projects.
You won't likely be paid immediately; although I have had payments in minutes after the project finished, a couple of weeks is usually the average incentive payment lead time.
So, How Do I Take Part In A Market Research Project?
The first step is to register with a market research company. There are many different research companies in the UK, and by joining up with several, you'll often then have access to a larger selection of market research opportunities. You'll need to register and enter some basic information as well as personal data and answer a series of questions so the survey companies can help match you with suitable studies. Once you've registered, you will likely start to receive frequent emails, which will list market research studies the company is recruiting for, and you can then apply to any that you feel would be suitable, and then using the information you have supplied the researchers will determine if you are a good fit for the study and then contact you to get you signed up for taking part. It's a bit of a minefield to know the best market research companies to work with, so I have listed below the companies I have used and would recommend you to sign up with.
Respondent is a market research company that offers a wide range of projects, mainly conducted via video chat. They are one of the best companies I have personally dealt with. They do a lot of specialised tasks, with some of the highest paying incentives, but also you will find a decent selection of the more mainstream subject projects as well.
Take Part In Research
Take Part In Research is one of the leading UK research companies. You will find a wide range of products being offered at any given time, most based around UK subjects, such as products, current news, current affairs or more specialised research projects. Very decent, with frequent new projects being offered.
Angelfish Opinions is a very similar type of company to Take Part In Research, offering topics from a wide range of different genres, with frequent new projects being offered, plus if you refer a friend to a project, and they take part, you can earn a £10 referral bonus. If you want to use our details - Name: The Penny Pincher - Email: Howdy@thepennypincher.co.uk when you apply to take your first project, we would be grateful, as it helps pay our website bills!
Trend Market Research
Trend Market Research is another UK-based company offering a range of different projects. They are slightly less technologically impressive than their competitors, as their website is basic. Still, it does provide a decent number of projects, and expect an almost daily email with a new project on the go!
Podengo Market Research
Podengo Market Research is a UK-based company offering a decent number of research projects, but not necessarily as many as some of its competitors, but they are still very much worth registering with.
User Interviews offer a decent number of market research projects. US-based, but with projects aimed towards UK users, it's a fast-paying service and worth keeping an eye out for its frequent project emails, as the spots fill up fast!
Testing Time has been one of my best-paying market research project companies to work with, mainly due to its super frequent emails about current projects. You have to apply quickly as the projects do fill up very fast indeed. As they are US based, the emails come through at odd times of the day, such as 3 am, and so unless you are keeping an eye out (set up their email address as a VIP emailer, so you get an alert when they email), you can easily miss out. As US-based, this site does pay in $. Currently, the website doesn't allow you to log in and see current projects; you need to watch for those emails!
UserTribe is a Danish market research company that offers mainly online chat-based market research projects. The number of projects is much smaller than some of the other companies. However, it's still worth signing up to receive project invitations, as they work with some big-name brands, and once you have taken part in a project for a particular brand, you may well find follow-up tasks are sent your way! Average pay rates are between £30 and £50 per hour, and payment is usually made within a week or so, generally on a Tuesday, with Amazon vouchers being the preferred payment method. Since covid, they've been far less frequent with UK studies, but they are still worth signing up with!
Saros Research is a UK-based research company offering a range of all sorts of different research projects. I've found many of these projects they offer are based around specific health conditions and not that frequent, but they pay quickly and typically direct to your bank account.
Bunnyfield is in my top 10 market research companies to work with. They offer an extensive range of projects, frequently, with recent projects including banking, charities, beer, childcare & teaching projects, and more! Payment is pretty fast and generally around £50 per hour.
Fresh Thinkers Market Research (FTMR)
FTMR are a UK-based research company that I've been offered a few projects for, that recruits for:
Focus groups (in person/online)
Face-to-face interviews (in person/online)
Workshops (in person/online)
The incentives are paid either BACS, Amazon Voucher or Paypal, and incentives can range from £40 to £250 (depending on how much involvement is required). I received £75 for a 30-minute group focus study recently.
Also, consider the following research companies, which I haven't used as much but are worth signing up with!
NEVER pay to join a research company! Some unscrupulous companies are out there, but all the companies I have mentioned are bonafide and will never ask you to pay for anything!
My top tips for taking part in a study from home are:
If the subject is specialised, don't think you can blag your way onto the project and make it up as you go along... this isn't recommended; the interviewer may very well know the subject matter in detail, and you will look silly when you don't have a clue!
Be ready to go! Make sure that you are set up and ready to go a few minutes before your actual start time. Nothing worse than being late for an interview!
Make sure you have the chat software already on your device, and it's the latest version; the number of times I've loaded up the software to find then it needs to update, making me late!
Test your microphone and webcam work, and when you go online and know how to unmute yourself!
The most crucial part is to make sure you have somewhere quiet to participate in the research! Even if you have to participate from your bedroom or bathroom, that's okay, just so long as you can't be interrupted. Also, make sure you have silenced your mobile and also turned off your texts/messenger/WhatsApp apps as if you have to screen share your device, it can be a bit embarrassing to start getting a message, or worse still, photos coming through, as the researcher will see them too!
My biggest piece of advice is to relax and be honest; if you don't know the answer, say so! The researchers are usually very understanding, friendly, and calm and will help guide you through. More often than not, there isn't a wrong answer; they just want honest and open answers from you!
You aren't expected to be the world's leading expert on the subject matter; they want your feedback - you don't need to be a brown noser; they are paying you for your views and feedback!
Regarding tax for the payments, you won't be taxed by the research company, as you are classed as a freelancer, and it's up to you to declare your income to the HMRC. You can earn up to £1,000 per year before having to advise the HMRC of your extra income.
In conclusion, participating in market research projects offers an excellent opportunity to earn extra income while sharing your insights and opinions. From online surveys to focus groups, various methods allow you to contribute your perspective and get paid for it. Market research has become a popular side hustle, especially as companies continually seek individuals' expertise and viewpoints.