Fieldwork employee manages focus-group projects that pay participants for their opinions on products and services such as TV episodes, product packaging and ad campaigns.

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What do you do? I manage qualitative marketing research projects cradle to grave; that is, from the bidding process to the day that clients and participants arrive at our facility. Fieldwork is a global marketing research firm. We help connect clients with their target audience to aid in the qualitative research process. We create an environment and find qualified candidates to share their thoughts and opinions on various subjects. We bring people in to participate in paid market research. They talk about products and services that they use, and give their opinions on everything from TV pilot episodes, concepts for ad campaigns, prototypes for new product packaging, etc.

The facility itself is built so that our clients can watch the discussions from behind one-way mirrors. I do pretty much everything other than conduct the research (a third party does that.) The type of participant whom our clients want to talk to is very specific, so participant recruitment is a key part of our business. (We haven’t actually been asked to recruit one-eyed pirates who prefer red wine over rum, but I’m waiting for the day!)

How did you get that job? My friend’s father participated in a focus group 13 years ago in our Kirkland office, shortly after it had opened. He was paid for his participation, and in the envelope was a little “we’re hiring” flyer. The rest is history. I’m grateful he passed along that flyer!

What’s a typical day like? Beautiful chaos. The pace is fiercely fast, the pieces are many, and it is a constant juggle. Researchers, analysts, corporate representatives, advertising agencies, strategy firms, vendors, participants, recruiters and staff all play an active role in my day. The process is all a delicate balance to maximize research budgets and assist our clients in achieving the prefect product or service.

What surprises people about the job? We often face skepticism from potential participants who are in disbelief that companies are really interested in their opinions and that we are really not trying to sell anything. Participants are amazed when they see the changes that they helped make — and that they were paid for it.