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I'm not looking for a job, but... (a perpetual series)
Old 07-09-2008, 07:28 PM   #1
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I'm not looking for a job, but... (a perpetual series)

A couple years ago a researcher invited me to a focus group about photovoltaics. It was great-- we sat in an air-conditioned conference room for a couple hours quaffing free beverages with a gourmet box lunch, socializing among fellow early adopters while pontificating clarifying the joys & economics of goin' green. It's a real-world analogue of a discussion board-- or maybe discussion boards are virtual focus groups.

We were compensated for our time with a crisp $100 bill. Is this a great country or what?!?

Last week the research company that sponsored the focus group e-mailed an invitation to complete online surveys for about $5/hour in "free" prizes. I passed but I offered to attend more focus groups, so a few days later I sat in an "education" focus group. The company founder led the discussion while her clients sat behind the one-way glass with the recording equipment. The day's gourmet was Quizno's and our 90 minutes of labor was now only worth $60. We were five men & five women, parents of students at Oahu public & private schools.

From the questions, it gradually developed that a group of "concerned citizens" wanted to improve Hawaii's educational system by influencing the Board of Education. They wanted to educate voters and maybe run their own BOE candidates.

We're all voters and we claimed to be involved in the educational process, but none of us (me included) knew anything about the BOE. Heck, I can't even tell you what powers they have or how many members there are, let alone who they are or how they're doing. And if I wanted to fix a problem with our kid's school then the BOE would be last after a long list of teachers, counselors, principals, and the state's Dept of Education bureaucracy. I can't tell that the BOE has any initiative or veto effect on the educational process, although they're been involved with DOE in setting the standard school-year calendar and having seniors do a graduation project. I suspect that our kid's high-school principal takes credit for the good ideas and blames the BOE for the bad ones.

The group leader asked if "The Learning Coalition" was a good name for the group. There's a Los Angeles educational non-profit of that name but I don't know if the client is part of that or just trying to figure out if they should work with TLC. We agreed that it'd be helpful to have an election guide in a local newspaper and on various local websites. I'd probably spend about 10 minutes figuring out who I wanted to vote for, and maybe I'd be a little more informed on the BOE, but it'd hardly make a ripple on my consciousness. It cost the "concerned citizens" at least $600 plus Quizno's & beverages, plus the fees of the research company.

I don't know if I'll be invited back, and I have no idea what I'd spend the $60 on, but I enjoyed myself... an interesting couple of social hours.


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Old 07-09-2008, 08:40 PM   #2
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Maybe you could continue doing focus groups, and also volunteer for Jury Duty??

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Old 07-10-2008, 01:38 AM   #3
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One of the joys of ER, you can do what you want to. I'm happy for you, my mileage would vary.

I'm not looking for a job, but... are you sure?
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who can extrapolate conclusions from insufficient data and ..
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:23 AM   #4
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Whadda ya do all day?

Well I attend focus groups!

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Old 07-10-2008, 12:54 PM   #5
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One time my 10 yr old daughter and I attended a marketing focus group for "Uncrustables" a frozen peanut butter & jelly sandwich with the crust removed. The kids were put in one room and the parents in another. Then we were asked a bunch of questions about various versions of the product, whether we would buy it or not. Many parents, including Moi, said the product was stupid and worthless and they would never spend more money on something they could make in two minutes. This really annoyed the marketing person!

Anyway, I guess they asked the kids the same thing and gave them samples. My daughter thought it was great fun and she made $25. I made $50.

I never thought the product would make it to market. But, surprise!, it did and twelve years later it's still for sale. I guess the product held a lot of value for many many people who don't like to make their own P&B sandwich.

Another time I attended a focus group for IAMs dog food. I was the only person being interviewed while marketing people watched behind their one way glass window. I gave them an idea for marketing the dog food that ended up in their ads. But maybe they already had the idea or someone else came up with it too. Anyway, they paid me $100 for one half hour of my dog food opinions.
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Old 07-10-2008, 01:03 PM   #6
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Nords, several of your local grocer's probably offer sample's if you keep moving from store to store you may eliminate the need to buy grocery's.

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