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Focus Groups

March 3, 2009

OK we’ve all participated in a focus group, right?
But how many of us have actually participated in a focus group where we genuinely met the qualifying requirements?

We all know the drill. Your friend or friend of a friend calls you and says OK there’s a focus group coming up. I gave them your number so when they call, be sure to tell them that you are under 25, or over 35 or how ever old you need to be. It’s about pre packaged deli meats and you love them – even though you are a strict vegan. Say you love them. The group pays $125 for sitting in a room, for an hour with other questionably aged meat-eating vegans, answering questions about how much they love meat they have never eaten. Ever. We do it. Times are tough. And even when they weren’t tough $125 for an hour of your time with no nudity involved, who wouldn’t lie to participate?

Everyone lies to get into the focus group. The people answering the questions couldn’t care less about diet soda, or soymilk or power rangers or cotton balls.

Usually this lying works. Today my lying attempt to pick up some fast cash by waxing on about how much I love Diet Coke® (not) blew up in my beer drinking face and I never saw it coming.

The truth of the matter is that I fuggin hate Diet Coke®. But not to pick on Diet Coke® alone, let’s be clear I hate all diet soda. Yuck. Why in the hell would anyone drink that shit? Well aside from diabetes, or course. Diets sodas are awful. They all start out with that clean refreshing taste like a normal soda does, then just as you are too far into swallowing to spit it out – (((BOING))) – that nasty ass sweetened over medicinal taste sprawls out all over your tongue. You snap your tongue against the roof of your mouth, but the ugly taste doesn’t go away until you drink a real soda. Ewww gross.

Diet Dr. Pepper® is the only diet soda I find remotely tolerable but the thing about Dr. Pepper® to begin with, is that its flavor is some kind of unusual after taste in the first place. I mean really, what the hell is Dr. Pepper® or its bastard child Mr. Pibb® supposed to be trying to taste like anyway? What is it? It’s not a cola. You know a cola when you’re having one. It’s not a root beer, though it reminds you of one in a dejavuy kind of way. It’s an after taste. Period. But an after taste you enjoy, especially if you live in Texas. I think it’s the state drink there. But just to be clear, don’t give me any diet soda, OK. I do not like diet soda!

Now how this tidbit of deceptively concealed information became revealed in my pre-qualifying questionnaire is a mystery to me. I knew the group was looking for Diet Coke® lovers. Not Diet Pepsi® lovers. My answers reflected this love. They also wanted the participants to drink bottled water and energy drinks. Heineken is my bottled water energy drink, but I answered, Oh yes, yes, yes, 2 to 3 times a day I drink the drinks you need me to drink to get into the group.

Everything was going well. You know, how you can tell when the survey dude is just as glad as you are that you’re qualifying. Qualifying you means he has one less person to call with the long ass diet soda questionnaire. He’s still asking me questions and by now I’m writing FOCUS GROUP on my calendar for the day and time the group is scheduled. Surely I’m in. Who loves diet soda more than me? Nobody! Yeay!

Then he flips the scrip and tells me he’s going to ask me some more questions and it is important that my answers be my honest answers not the answers I would give based on what society thinks – but my honest answers. Was that his way of telling me, OK, I know you’ve been lying about the diet soda, but this part is serious now?

Fine. Let ‘em rip. I’m ready, with visions of blank white envelopes stuffed with cash dancing in my head.

1. Do you feel only money is the true measure or a person’s success?
Strongly agree, agree somewhat, disagree, or strongly disagree?
Strongly disagree. I mean isn’t that the right answer whether you like diet soda or not?

2. I would sacrifice time with my family to get ahead.
Strongly agree, agree somewhat, disagree, or strongly disagree?
Agree somewhat. I mean I would blow off family game night to attend the company function, but on the other hand I quit my job to take care of my mother when she was in ICU on life support. Wouldn’t a diet soda drinker do that too?

I wondered.

The vibe is changing. I can feel it. Not going as well for me anymore.

3. I feel it is important to have a loving relationship in life.
Strongly agree, agree somewh…
(Hell yeah – duh! I didn’t say this; I said->) I STRONGLY AGREE, before he could rattle off the rest of the choices I had heard for the two previous questions. (Now ask me how many times I’ve been laid this millennium and that’s a different story but the need for a loving relationship in life is a no brainer! How else would you be able to have a Coke® and a smile without at least one loving relationship? Shit, the relationship could be with your tabby cat but everyone has to have some kind of loving relationship in life. Period. Especially if they are all hopped up on Diet Coke®)

It was not looking too good for me getting into that focus group right about then. And I’m sure I’m not getting in when he tells me, now for these next questions please answer either
Like it or love it. Don’t feel one way or the other about it. Or hate it. And I knew it wasn’t going to have shit to do with diet soda. Can’t you just feel a trick question when one is coming?

He asked me how do I feel about Brittany Spears? I swear. That’s what he asked me. I couldn’t stop laughing. I was supposed to say, like it or love it. Don’t feel one way or the other. Or hate it. But all I could do was laugh. What the fugg does Brittany Spears have to do with some goddamn diet soda? I couldn’t stop laughing. I just couldn’t.

His failure to laugh along with me, even though I’ve got one of those goofy laughs that makes you laugh when I laugh, for no other reason than hearing me laugh, made me realize OK I need to stop laughing here – dude is serious. I pulled myself together and stuttered out, over a suppressed giggle, “I don’t feel one way or the other”. But the jig was up. My laughing at the idea of Brittany Spears was apparently proof that I do not drink diet soda. Go figure.

Whatever the case, that question concluded the survey. I did not qualify to participate in the group. Bummer…sure could have used the cash!

Gotta go get another beer, and put on more rouge. Right now!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. RPS permalink
    March 3, 2009 3:14 pm

    RB you crack me up!
    I think I was called for this same focus group, with the exact same results! LOL.

  2. SEG permalink
    March 10, 2009 8:16 am

    They have gotten better. You hit it on the head!

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