Recently, I took part in a market research project about pies. Yes, I was paid to spend two hours talking with six strangers about pies. Who knew it was even possible? And who knew it could be such fun?! Although, we didn’t get to taste any actual pies, which was a bit out of order, especially as it was lunchtime!
This was the fourth time I’ve taken part in a market research session. Other things I’ve been paid to have an opinion on include ham, home baking products and supermarket ‘click and collect’ ideas. I’m signed up with an agency who email periodically with invites. Then I fill in a questionnaire and, if I fit the criteria, I’m offered a session. It’s usually pretty good money too so it’s a fun way to make a few pennies towards Christmas presents.
So, back to the pies. You get asked some pretty odd questions at these sessions. For example:
“What sort of feelings do you get from eating pies?“
“When is ‘pie time’ in your house?“
“What kind of pie would you eat for a special occasion?“
Once you get over the initial snigger (‘pie time’?!) you realise you actually have to answer these questions. In front of other people. I always let someone else answer first where possible so I can gauge where to pitch my answers. Of course, sometimes the person leading the session will put you on the spot and ask you a direct question, so it can be a bit awkward! But there’s usually at least one or two gobby people at these sessions. You know, the ones who like the sound of their own voice and if they’re being paid to have an opinion, then they’re bloody well going to give it. I never knew pies could be such an emotive subject for some blokes! There were definitely some strong opinions this time:
“Oh, pies aren’t a summer thing. I never eat pies in the summer. No.”
“Pie time for me is when there’s something good on the telly. It’s relaxing, isn’t it, a pie? (Is it?! What, like a hot bath?)
“Oh no, you can’t go messing about with the pastry. It doesn’t need herbs and spices.“
Despite there being some ‘interesting’ opinions (“pies are healthy though, aren’t they?”), we actually had a good time. We didn’t get to eat pie, but we did get pizza, biscuits and cups of tea. We sorted various brands of pie into different categories, such as Posh Pies and we chose buttons to represent Heston’s pie (fancy, shiny) and Pukka Pies (plain, black). Like I said, odd, but fun.
So, keep an eye out for pies from a well-known gravy company and a new range from a certain silver-haired baking judge – or if they don’t ever make it onto the supermarket shelves, perhaps it’s because we didn’t allocate them a shiny button!