How to earn £50-£200 in a couple of hours via market research focus groups – including the top 17 agencies to join

If you're willing to give your views on anything from fantasy football to chocolate spread or luxury cars, you could walk away with £50-£200 from taking part in a market research focus group.

Plus the majority of projects have stayed on online since the pandemic, so you can usually take part wherever you live in the UK. We've rounded up the top agencies to join, based on which are the best payers and have the most projects available.  

The best bit is you don't need any special skills or knowledge – you just need to be yourself. This usually involves sharing your thoughts on the chosen subject in a focus group (typically eight or so people) for an hour or two in person – often over biscuits and a cuppa. A researcher leads the discussion, asking for opinions on advertisements or a something else to do with the topic.

The rise of online projects is a boon for those who don't live near a big city. You can now give your views by telephone, Whatsapp, Zoom video call and more - it all depends on the project.

Focus groups are usually recruited for via market research agencies, and knowing the right sites to sign up with can substantially boost your takings. So to help, we've compiled the top 17 companies below.

All the agencies listed restrict the number of projects you can take part in. Usually the limit is one every six months  and that's with ANY agency. (They do sometimes make exceptions though, and you'll always be told of any restrictions before being offered a job, so it's not something you need to worry about).

With that in mind then, see this as a nice little occasional earner rather than a chance to amass a fortune. But if you keep at it, it can really pay off – as this email from Rosie shows:

I've been doing market research for over a decade. Initially, I thought it would just give me a bit of extra pocket money, but over the years I've made over £5,000, which I put towards my first flat deposit! It's also really fun taking part in the focus groups. Oh, and they usually give you free sandwiches... what's not to love?
- Rosie

We'd love to hear which market research agencies you rate, and why. Please pop your thoughts in the comments below or in the Market Research forum thread. Plus see our guide to making cash by filling in Online Surveys.

14 tips to get the market-research cash rolling in

Before we get onto the top market research sites to sign up to, here are a few tips to max your earnings:

  • The number of focus groups you can do is restricted to a couple or possibly a few a year (though firms will sometimes make exceptions and let you do it more frequently for hard-to-fill projects).

    Because of this, aim for the higher-paying projects. We're talking projects paying at least £50, rather than smaller projects paying a tenner. The really sought-after jobs can even pay £150 or more.

  • Projects are usually advertised by email, but never use your normal email address. It'll be immediately flooded with market research requests. Instead, set up a dedicated email account. As a powerful free option, Gmail is among the best.

  • To boost your chances, set aside some time to sign up to all the agencies below. As the number of focus groups you can attend is limited, we've picked the ones with solid feedback from MoneySavers and Trustpilot.

  • It's a numbers game. If you're not selected to take part straightaway, keep applying – companies often have oddly specific criteria. One seasoned focus group-er we spoke to said she had a hit rate of about one in six.

  • Spaces on popular projects vanish more quickly than the green triangles in a Quality Street tin at MSE Towers. So when an email for a suitable session hits your inbox, register your interest immediately. Also, make yourself easy to get hold of.

  • Most in-person focus groups take place in major cities. Yet it's still well worth everyone signing up – these days many projects are run via video call, online forums and even WhatsApp groups.

  • If an application form asks for your opinion on something, get really into it and try to stand out. This will up your chances of selection.

  • Are you really a Porsche 911-owning, tequila-drinking pescatarian? Don't be tempted to fib, as companies can tell who's telling porkies.

    As one recruiter told us: "We can spot people who merrily go through ticking all of the options in our survey in the hope of getting picked... they don't."

  • If the company demands any type of fee or deposit, walk away. None of the companies below did when we checked.

  • These can be another source of opportunities, often at locations handy for you. For example, I recently got £50 for a chat on childhood vaccinations for our local council.

  • Your first £1,000 of income from 'trading and miscellaneous' work is tax-free, which includes focus groups. Above that, you'll need to declare it. For full information, read HMRC's self-employment leaflet.

  • If you're a 'business decision maker' you're often paid more. Same goes for professionals such as accountants, dentists and solicitors.

    For example, we saw a company paying £220 for a three-hour session on business credit cards or £125 if you make decisions on toilets in office buildings.

  • Unfortunately, people working in advertising, the media and marketing are often excluded from taking part in research. However, it's still worth joining – this restriction will be made clear on individual projects' application forms.

  • You need to be 16 or over to join the majority of the market research companies listed below. (This can vary, so check with the individual firm.)

    However, many projects specifically ask for kids under-16 to be interviewed, accompanied by their parents, so it's worth keeping an eye out on their behalf. We've seen some fun activities listed, eg, get paid to test Lego.

    The child will receive anything from £15-£40 for an hour, and the parent usually gets a chaperone fee of about £30.

The top 17 market research agencies to join

Now without further ado, here are the top market research companies to sign up to. We've chosen these based on feedback from users, as well as our own experiences when we signed up.

1) Saros – a big, well-established agency

Established agency Saros typically pays £40 to £100 cash for two hours' work. We've also seen projects that involve taking part in WhatsApp groups for a few weeks pay over £200. 'Like' its Facebook page to get first dibs on the latest opportunities.

Typical payment per project: £40-£100
How and where does it run groups?
Most face-to-face research takes place in the major cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham. People can take part in certain projects remotely, including by telephone, chat forum and Zoom video call.

I have done a couple of things for Saros in the past, got paid on the day in cash. Whoop-peee, £40 or £50 straightaway.
- Forumite Danielle1977

2) Angelfish Opinions – good for fun online projects

With plenty of online projects, Angelfish Opinions has great Trustpilot feedback. Tasks are often on fun subjects – we saw it offer £50 for an animal charities task and £70 for an online forum about travel. Its Facebook page is full of current opportunities.

Typical payment per project: £40-£200
How and where does it run groups? Angelfish told us it currently runs about 80% online via methods such as telephone, Google Hangouts and Zoom. Face-to-face groups are UK-wide.

3) Research Opinions – one of the higher payers

Based in Manchester, Research Opinions runs focus groups across the country – often for tasty sums. We saw £200 offered for a two-hour luxury car focus group and £120 for an online forum about chocolate spread on pancakes (sign me up...). Join its busy Facebook and Instagram pages for a heads-up on new projects.

Typical payment per project:
How and where does it run groups? UK-wide, with many online sessions. It's interviewing people by phone or by Zoom and Skype video calls.

I attended a focus group with Research Opinions for two hours (drinks and snacks provided) and was given £50 cash. All I had to do was sit in a room with five other people and give my opinion on a certain well-known brand.
- Forumite Needeasymoney

4) NEW. Research-i – get paid £50-£200 to test new video games

Before big new video games hit the shelves, companies need to test them out to see if they’ll be a hit. And Research-i will pay you £50- £200 to do it - occasionally as much as £400. On some projects, you can even bring a mate to play multi-player games together. Most sessions are in-person, because gaming firms like to keep their cards close to their chests to minimise the risk of leaks. However, Research-i also recruits for other topics (eg, travel, haircare), which are more likely to be remote. See its current list of projects to apply and keep an eye on its Facebook page.

Typical payment per project: £50-£200
How and where does it run groups? Most gaming projects take place in central London or Sussex. It also runs remote testing on other topics.

5) Market Research 4 U – good for people in the South East

When we checked, Market Research 4 U had heaps of opportunities on offer, from £50 for a one-hour chat on joining the Royal Navy, to £70 for a two-hour chat about nappies.

Typical payment per project: £50-£150
How and where does it run groups? You can take part in remote projects by telephone or video call (often Google Hangouts). The majority of in-person groups take place in London, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey. 

6) QMR – good for heaps of opportunities

QMR is a well-established agency that had tons of opportunities when we checked. Shout-outs included £85 for a three-hour focus group on snacks and £135 for an online project on beer.

Typical payment per project:
How and where does it run groups? The vast majority of projects are now run online via Zoom video calls. In-person groups are UK-wide.

7) Trend Market Research – high payer with lots of projects

Trend Market Research is another good bet, with reams of well-paying projects. We saw £230 for a three-hour discussion on cars (car discussions are often one of the top payers if you fit the bill) and £55 to talk about scents. Join its Facebook group for alerts.

Typical payment per project: £40-£200
How and where does it run groups? Most projects we saw were online via Whatsapp, chat forums or Zoom video calls. In-person interviews were UK-wide, but mainly in London and the Home Counties.

8) NEW. iPoint – heaps of remote projects available

When we checked, iPoint had a stacks of well-paying projects on offer. We saw it recruiting for focus groups on topics including perfume (£175), grocery shopping (£55) and neurodiverse kids (£80). Since the pandemic, it’s moved the vast majority of its research online.

Typical payment per project: £50-£125
How and where does it run groups? Most projects take place online via Zoom and Microsoft Teams. A few are face-to-face and these are UK-wide.

9) Focus Force – good for Londoners (plus has online projects)

Holding most of its groups in London, Focus Force typically pays £50-£100 a survey. When we signed up to test it, there were a host of projects, from £120 for an online focus group on sustainability to £60 for a two-hour chat about meat-free foods.

Typical payment per project: £50-£100
Where does it run groups (normally)? Mainly in London venues, but it also offers online and telephone projects.
How is it currently running projects? It depends on the project, but often via Skype, Microsoft Teams.

10) Talking Point Research – high payer with lots of projects

Another established agency, Talking Point Research is well worth a join. When we checked, projects included £60 for taking part in a online baking community, plus £80 for a family to visit a local attraction for free, then attend a focus group.

Typical payment per project:
How and where is it running projects? Most projects are remote and now take place on Microsoft Teams or Zoom. There are a few in-person groups, mainly London and the Home Counties. 

11) Bunnyfield – good for research on fun topics

With decent feedback from MoneySavers, Bunnyfield now runs focus groups mainly online. Topics are often fun – we saw £50 offered to talk about days out and £50 to chat about travel insurance. Check out its latest projects on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Typical payment per project: £50-£200
How and where does it run groups? It runs most focus groups via Zoom with the occasional in-person group in London, Oxfordshire and Sheffield.

I've done focus groups for £50-£100. Better still are the telephone/live web ones where you don't have to leave the house. Bunnyfield's good for this.
- Forumite MollyDolly

12) NEW. Opinion Exchange – especially good if you’re in Scotland or Wales

Opinion Exchange offers the chance to take part in paid research on topics such as how you spend your spare time, Scottish galleries and Welsh current affairs. While it recruits nationwide, we saw plenty of opportunities in Scotland and Wales. The company also runs online surveys, paying £1 upwards. 

Typical payment per project: £45-£75
How and where does it run projects? It runs in-person groups across the UK. Other groups are remote, via Zoom and Microsoft teams.

13) NEW. Code 3 – plenty of remote opportunities

Agency Code 3 now runs nearly all studies remotely. We saw £50 for a study on sport on TV and £75 for one on takeaways. It also specialises in finance research, eg, it’s currently paying £150 to chat about retirement savings.

Typical payment per project: £50-£150
How and where does it run projects? The majority of projects are now remote using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. It says it may start to run a few in-person projects later in the year – in the past these have been mainly in London and other big UK cities. 

14) Focus4People  runs groups in the South East (and online)

It's possible to earn £30 to £150 per session with Focus4People. Recent projects included £30 for a focus group on vaping and £50 for an hour's chat about holidays. Like its Facebook page to see the latest projects.

Typical payment per project: £30-£150
How and where does it run projects? Most are taking place over telephone and Zoom video call. In-person focus groups are UK-wide, though most projects are in south east England.

15) Research Helper  join if you're keen

Another site worth joining if you're really committed is Research Helper. When we joined though there were a couple of opportunities currently available, including £50 for a focus group on private healthcare and £60 for disabled people to test web content to ensure it's accessible.

Typical payment per project: £40-£80
How and where does it run projects? UK-wide by Video call and telephone.

16) NEW. Rocket Research – for dedicated focus groupees

When we checked Rocket Research only a couple of opportunities available, but pay was decent. We saw £140 to discuss private medical insurance and £40 if you’re working as an apprentice. If you’re keen it’s worth checking - see its latest projects to get involved.

Typical payment per project: £40-£100
How and where does it run projects? UK-wide, though we have not seen Fresh Thinkers offer many projects recently.

17) Fresh Thinkers – worth joining for belt and braces

While it had fewer projects than some of the other agencies we signed up to, Fresh Thinkers is worth signing up to for belt and braces.

Typical payment per project: £40-£100
How and where does it run projects? UK-wide, though we have not seen Fresh Thinkers offer many projects recently.