Apex Focus Group claims to have over 800 active participants from 41 states taking part in their 1,000+ market research opportunities, and the company’s home page indicates that they “help you find paid focus groups near you.” In reality, the company does not offer any of its own research opportunities; it merely directs you to third-party sites that may or may not be worth your time.
This is an important distinction, particularly given that Apex’s terms of service indicate that the company “has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, or practices of any third party web sites or services.”
In other words, Apex is not a legitimate market research company and users should follow links from the site, or from the emails that Apex sends, at their own risk.
In this Apex review, I’ll go over what the company does, how it makes money, and why you should consider other options.
Is Apex Focus Groups Legit?
Apex does not offer its own paid research opportunities. Instead, the goal of the site is to sign users up to an email distribution list. Subscribers receive emails with affiliate links that direct them to third-party survey sites, market research platforms, product testing opportunities and various other services and offers.
Although Apex does not disclose how the company earns money, my assumption is that they receive a commission when users click on links and/or sign up for third-party services. While I was referred to several legitimate third-parties, I hadn’t heard of most of the companies I was directed to and received a number of errors and security messages after clicking on links during testing.
In other words, Apex does not appear to conduct much if any vetting with regard to the quality of the third-party opportunities it sends to its email list.
Apex’s List of Available Focus Groups Is Never Updated
One of the easiest ways to tell that Apex is not offering its own opportunities is the fact that the list of available focus groups displayed on the website never changes.
Take a look at the screenshots below. The first one shows the focus groups that were listed on December 20, 2022 (after clicking “Focus Groups” on the main page). The list was identical to the results from a search conducted in July 2023.
While I suppose it is possible that all of these companies are still looking to complete studies that began at least seven months ago, it is more likely that Apex added a number of opportunities at a point in time to give the site the appearance of a functioning website and then never bothered to refresh them.
And in fact, clicking on many of these “sign up” links takes you to dead pages or research studies that are no longer available.
What Happens After You Sign Up
When I clicked on the “Go Here To Get Started” button, I expected to be taken to a sign-up page that, after entering personal details, would lead me to a dashboard that provides access to various studies based on my demographic information. That is what occurs when you sign up for legitimate paid research sites.
Instead, the resulting page indicated that Apex was seeking participants in all cities and states. The description listed a generic set of responsibilities and qualifications and promised the ability to earn $75 to $150 per hour. Even the low end of that range would be approximately 50% higher than the best-paying focus group platform we’ve tested.
It also stated that there were only three positions left. This appears to be a complete fabrication, as that same “three positions left” message has been shown every time we’ve viewed the registration page over the three months we’ve spent researching, writing and fact-checking for this review.
After clicking on “Apply Now,” I was asked for a few personal details. However, I was also asked whether or not I was interested in receiving a school grant, which was unusual and raised some red flags; not only does this not have anything to do with focus groups, it just generally seems sketchy.
After completing my registration information, Apex sent me a welcome email that included a “private” link to complete my first questionnaire along with a link to register for my first market research assignment.
The first link sent me to a third-party, Curion, where I was asked to sign up for their service to gain access to various product testing opportunities. The second link redirected me to a third-party survey site, Branded Surveys.
To find paid opportunities, I would have to sign up separately for one of those two sites.
Our Apex Focus Groups Testing Experience
After my initial annoyance with Apex not being what it claimed to be, I decided to see if any of the seemingly stale opportunities were actually legit. I attempted to sign up for the first five studies listed on the “Available Focus Group Studies” page.
Here is what I found:
- The “business travel” focus group study redirected me to a SurveyMonkey signup page.
- The “decision making” and “home financing” studies both redirected me to third-party sites that were flagged as having privacy concerns by my browser.
- The “pet products” study link resulted in an error message.
- The “Health and Wellness” study redirected me to a sign-up page for L&E Opinions, where I could gain access to studies run by L&E Research.
These five “studies” weren’t what I had anticipated. I decided to switch gears and check out the numerous emails that Apex sent me. I’ve received one or two emails each day since signing up. Each has a different call to action, like “here’s your chance to earn $125…click here…” or “sign up here to get paid for reviewing books…” I followed the links for the first five emails I received and this is what I learned.
- Email #1 contained a link promising $125 for working Americans to participate in a focus group. The link directed me to an Apex website with the same information (and multiple ads). When I clicked on “apply now” I was redirected to Respondent, an online focus group platform (which I’ve previously tested).
- Email #2 indicated that I could make $5 to $60 per book I reviewed. The link was an affiliate link to a third-party site (onlinebookclub.org). I know that there are legit ways to get paid for book reviews, so I signed up, gained access to the platform, and had the opportunity to choose from 30 different books. However, only one offered a payment ($10) in exchange for a review. I could have reviewed the other 29 but wouldn’t have earned anything.
- Email #3 promised free samples and redirected me to Daily Goodie Box. I signed up to earn a box of free samples in exchange for product feedback and was immediately redirected to yet another third-party, Survey Roundtable. (Note that Daily Goodie Box did send me a confirmation email, but the whole thing made me a little uneasy so I declined to enter my home address to actually test the service.)
- Emails #4 and #5 both referenced free sample opportunities, and both redirected me to TryProducts.com. I had hit my limit of clicking on random links for one day so I declined to sign up for the service.
I cannot be confident that all of these opportunities are legit. Even if I assume they are all reputable entities that offer services as promised, a simple internet search would have provided me similar results with the same lack of vetting. You’d be better off referring to our list of product testing sites.
The only “benefit” offered by Apex is the daily emails straight to your inbox with links to another service or two. However, you still need to do your own due diligence to determine whether or not to participate.
Better Paid Focus Group Alternatives
I have tested a number of focus groups and other alternatives for The Ways To Wealth, having a positive (and relatively high-paying) experience with both User Interviews and Respondent. I’ve also found (lower-paying) success with various survey sites.
When researching for TWTW’s User Interviews review, I applied to participate in 100 studies, completed eight of them, and earned $360 for slightly less than five hours of work (equating to $74 per hour). Even after accounting for the time it took me to apply for studies, I still earned $55 per hour, which was more than I earned through Respondent (or any survey site I’ve personally tested).
Applying for studies via User Interviews is a short process and users are not limited in the number of studies they can apply for. However, I experienced a low qualification rate (8%), most of the studies I applied for were time-consuming, all of the studies required me to participate during typical business hours, and I was paid via gift cards instead of cash.
All things considered, User Interviews is still my personal favorite.
Respondent is second to User Interviews from my perspective. My experience with the site for TWTW’s Respondent review was positive. I earned $31 per hour, was paid cash via PayPal (which I prefer over User Interview’s gift card payments), and found a significant number of opportunities for the general population.
On the flip side, my Respondent qualification rate of approximately 4% was even lower than that of User Interviews. I only applied for 24 studies so I did have a significantly smaller sample size. The driver of my limited applications was that Respondent only allows each user to apply to three studies per day.
Paid survey sites like Survey Junkie and Swagbucks typically allow users to earn about $5 per hour for completing short surveys. There are numerous survey sites out there, so it can be tough to figure out which will have a passable qualification rate, allow you to cash out at a relatively low amount, and pay you a reasonable rate given the amount of time you spend. TWTW reviewed 50 survey sites to help you find the best opportunities available.
Apex Focus Groups FAQs
$0. I wasn’t able to earn money with Apex directly. Users may be able to earn money from the sites that Apex directs them to, but each person needs to review the privacy policies, terms and conditions, and reviews of each of those sites before deciding to participate.
There is no Apex Focus Group login page because Apex does not offer focus groups directly. Apex is a website and email service designed to match users to third-party sites that may (or may not) offer focus groups and other various opportunities.
You don’t. After navigating to the Apex website, users can try their luck at following the various third-party sites that Apex provides on its website, but these are mostly out of date. If you register with Apex you will receive a daily email or two and can choose to roll the dice on any of the various third-parties that Apex sends your way. Just remember that Apex’s terms of service clearly states that it has no control over any of the third-party services it recommends to you.
The reviews I found were generally negative. Trustpilot reviews for Apex averaged 2.6 out of 5 stars (with 77% of the respondents giving the service only 1 star). Additionally, this Reddit thread seemed generally skeptical and unimpressed. Finally, I found three customer complaints that were made to the Better Business Bureau.
Although not an overwhelming number, the complaints were telling. All indicated issues with the third-party platforms Apex had directed users to (lack of payment for a completed study, inability to recoup a shipping payment for a canceled order, and general unhappiness with the way a third-party survey site was operating).
Apex Focus Group Review: Final Verdict
At no point in the onboarding process did Apex tell me that they were referring me to partner sites. Instead, they used vague language that suggested I was receiving curated opportunities.
However, in Apex’s own words — see their 1/24/2022 response to a Better Business Bureau complaint — “we only send out recommendations for focus groups that subscribers on our list can join. The actual focus groups are performed by 3rd party companies.”
Because Apex doesn’t appear to vet any of the third-parties that they recommend, I canceled the service for myself and I’d suggest doing your own research before signing up for any of Apex’s third-party offerings.