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Mystery Shopping
Connecting people - consumers and service users - with research companies who want to explore their views. All respondents are genuine members of the public, who are financially rewarded for giving up their time (typically 30 - 50 for 2 hours work) and sharing their views in discussion groups, or participating in surveys. Companies who manufacture products or provide services need to ensure they are meeting the needs of their customers, both in what they are doing now and in planning for the future. Similarly lots of organisations, commercial and non-commercial, need to understand public opinion and how this develops over time. Rather than ask their customers directly it is often more credible and effective to use a specialist market research agency to ask the questions. These agencies need to be able to consult members of the public to probe their attitudes, opinions and feelings on a whole range of issues. Sometimes they need to talk to a cross section of the public as a whole, whilst at other times they need to focus on specific groups, e.g. those who use a particular product regularly. To make the outcome of the research valuable to their clients, they need to select a range of people to take part who genuinely reflect the target group, showing the normal diversity expected within that group - e.g. a range of ages or ethnicity. Why participate in research?: Every day you use products and services in a competitive market place. Taking part in research gives you the personal opportunity to feed back to and have influence over these companies, so that what's on offer in the future will suit your needs better. When you take part in a discussion group, you might statistically represent hundreds of thousands of people! This gives you a genuinely powerful and important role in new developments. In the past many groups in society have been drastically under-represented in this area, for example ethnic-minority and disabled people are regarded as 'hard to recruit' and rarely involved in research groups. This company aims to challenge this, and give every part of our diverse community a voice in market research fieldwork - there is a sound business case for this, as their clients need to know the views of all their potential customers, not just the obvious majority. But let's put the power and influence on one side for the moment - this is a commercial business, and if they ask people to take time to participate in a discussion group they are financially rewarded for their time and contribution. This is a one-off cash payment, typically of 30 - 50 for a two hour discussion. This could be far higher for specialist or business groups. Questionnaires etc. are obviously much quicker and easier to participate in, and may be rewarded by entry into a draw of some sort. Sometimes when manufacturers are testing a new product, participants receive samples/supplies, in return for evaluating the performance. Most people find they really enjoy participating in groups - discussions are lead by a skilled moderator, everybody gets their say, and it can be lively and interesting, whatever the subject matter. Remember, everyone's in the same boat, and the researchers are well aware of this and go to great lengths to make everyone feel relaxed and welcome. And whilst helping to influence the activity of a company or service, you get paid and offered refreshments just for talking! Remember, you will have been selected for the group for a reason and as such you are likely to have many things in common with the other participants. What if I don't want to take part?: That is absolutely fine! You will be probably be contacted by email initially, and the easiest thing for you to do if you're not interested is to simply ignore it. They won't keep hassling you to get involved in anything you don't want to. By joining the database the only thing you are committed to is receiving invitations occasionally, you are under no pressure or obligation to ever take part in a survey or discussion. If you decide at any point you no longer wish to be on the database and receive invitations, contact them and they will remove your name and all your personal details immediately. They maintain high standards of confidentiality/data protection and will always respect your personal information even if you are no longer registered with them. I haven't got time to go to groups - is there any point me registering?: Yes there is - remember you aren't committing to any participation by registering. Surveys/questionnaires might only take a few minutes to complete, and when they're planning a group they always look for people living near the venue first - so it might be easier to join in than you think. In the future they hope to be exploring 'virtual groups', e.g. by videoconferencing, so you could participate without leaving your living room! So we would urge you to register now, and they'll keep you updated about new developments. Taking part in a research discussion group - what real people think: "I thought the subject sounded pretty dull, but the moderator made the time whiz by with all the thought exercises and games. When the new ad comes out, I'll tell people I helped choose it!". Ms P., Hammersmith. "It was an added bonus to make useful business contacts - the other eight participants were all freelance programmers like myself". C.R., Luton. "I'm normally pretty shy about talking in a group, and worried about how I'd contribute, but the moderator made it really relaxed and easy - I found I joined in and really enjoyed myself. When can I do another one?". Mr J., Islington. "Actually it was a relief to know that so many other [product] users were having the same difficulties as me. It is not something people talk about, but it was easy once I realised the others were in the same boat". Ms L., Croydon (a medical products group). Share
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