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Benefiting From Rampant Consumerism

August 27th, 2007

It is tempting for many of us to decry the phenomenon of rampant consumerism in America, especially when we see so many people buying products of questionable necessity. However, this incessant desire for more “stuff” is a large part of what fuels the demand for things like paid surveys. The sheer volume of sales revenues that can be gained by selling various goods to the American consumer markets has become so large that many manufacturers can afford to outsource much of their product testing to specialized market research companies, who then use some of their money to pay people like us to test the products and take surveys about them.

A good example of this trickle down effect of rampant consumerism occurred this afternoon when I managed to qualify for two back-to-back product sample tests, each of them sponsored by different market research companies. One of them is even paying me $10 on top of the free product:

Based on your responses to these questions we would like to include you in an additional research study. If you agree to participate we would send you two different packages of white mailing labels to use and evaluate in your office. You would need to use your computer and inkjet printer to test them. We would ask that you print and apply several sheets of the white mailing labels from each of the two packages. We would also send you a “usage diary” and ask you to mark your responses to several questions after you have tried each of the different white mailing label products. It would take about 15 minutes of your time to complete and you would have five workdays to complete the evaluations.

Once you have personally tested both products we would ask you to complete an online survey using the diary to give us your opinions about these products. You will be sent an email invitation to the survey about one week after you receive your products. You would simply transfer the answers from your diary to the online questionnaire and you would be able to access this online survey at any time of day that is convenient for you. You would not need to complete the survey all at one time and would be able to save your responses to sign-in at a later time to complete the survey.

If you agree to participate in this research and complete all parts of the study:
• provide your contact information for mailing purposes;
• use the product for the required time;
• keep a diary of your product use;
• and complete the follow-up online survey;

you will receive $10 and an Instant Win game play and entry in our $25,000 cash sweepstakes.

The other test is for some kind of body wash product, which is something I don’t usually use, but I agreed to try it out anyway. I’m actually getting a little bit of cash out of this one too, albeit indirectly; when I completed this questionnaire, I received some points to my internal account, and these points can be saved up and redeemed for cash:

We would like to offer you an exciting and fun opportunity! You have qualified to participate in a research project and we need your expert opinion.

A major body wash manufacturer is interested in your opinion of a body wash product. As part of this important study, you will receive 2 body wash products via mail. The first product will be shipped on September 6th. You will need to use the first product for 3 days, stop using it and fill out a short 10 minute internet survey. By then, you should receive the second product. You will be asked to use it for 3 days and fill out another short 10 minute internet survey.

We would like you, and only you, to use these products, as it is only your opinion in which we are interested. Therefore, we can only send the products to you if you would be able to personally use them and share your opinions with us.

We will be conducting this research from September 8th, 2007 through September 18th, 2007. You would need to be available during these dates to receive the products, use the products and then complete the two short Internet surveys.

If you are selected, would you be available between these dates to participate in this research project?
Please select one

* Yes, I am available and would like to participate

No, I am not available and/or would not like to participate

Interestingly, neither of these samples are food-related, unlike most of my previous product tests. This is probably a good thing because it means that I am beginning to gain more trust with the market research firms and broadening my base of possible survey opportunities from which to draw free products and cash. So while it is tempting to excoriate all of those Americans for being financially stupid and running themselves into debt from buying products that they don’t really need, I am beginning to see the value of not giving them too many economics lectures. After all, their rampant consumerism indirectly benefits people like me by allowing us to make money from the paid surveys markets. And we even get to keep some of that “stuff” for free!


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