As part of my journalism work, I’m often testing different gadgets and accessories and giving my verdict.
Some are absolutely brilliant, some are pretty good but don’t fit with my lifestyle and some are just not worth the money.
One of the perks is that sometimes I get to keep the products afterwards.
But actually, product testing is one of those things that anyone can get involved in – your feedback might not be published, but it feeds into market research by brands who will let you keep the item as a thank you, and may even pay you for your time.
So how do you become a product tester and what should you be aware of? Here’s what you need to know.
What is product testing?
Product testing as a consumer is quite different from product testing as a journalist.
For my work, I often have to compare multiple samples of the same product (from different brands) to find the best.
They’re existing products, so things you can buy off the shelf or online.
But for consumer product testing, more often than not you’ll be asked to test something that hasn’t hit the market yet.
The feedback you give might go into market research for a brand, or it could go into marketing and promotion.
Are there any downsides?
Lots of brands look for product testers, and you don’t need any special qualifications.
However, you do have to fill in some pretty detailed surveys so the brand can build a profile of who you are.
If you’re not into sharing personal information – we’re talking about things like your weight or skin concerns rather than your bank details – then this is probably not for you.
After you fill out those lengthy forms and get accepted as a product tester, there’s no promise you’ll get picked to do any product testing.
Usually brands will look for a specific profile – a mum in her 40s for example – and if you don’t fit the criteria then you won’t be chosen.
Similarly, if you live in a part of the country where there are a lot of mums in their 40s, it can be a luck of the draw as to whether you’ll get picked out of the pool.
So even if you spent ages filling out forms, it could be months or even years before you get your hands on any products.
In some cases, you will also be expected to be active in the brand community before you get picked to test samples.
And then of course there’s the fact that you’re the guinea pig for a new product, which may or may not suit your needs.
How does product testing work in practice?
Say if you do actually get picked to test a product, you’ll get a sample sent to you in the post.
Depending on what it is, you’ll usually have a couple of weeks to test it before giving your feedback.
The feedback will be in the shape of more surveys, which might be multiple choice or free text, or you might have to talk to someone on the phone.
You might be asked about your perception of the product – whether the packaging feels luxe or mass market, for example – or how well it worked.
In general it can be quite time consuming, which might help you to decide whether it’s worth it for the freebie.
Some product testing gigs are paid, but these are relatively rare and typically involve in-person panels.
Which brands need product testers?
There are two ways you can become a product tester: apply directly with a brand, or through a marketing or research company specialising in product testing.
Here are some of the places where you can apply to be a product tester:
Beauty and skincare product testing
- Alba Science – new cosmetics
- Boots volunteer panel – range of brands including Boots’ own
- CeraVe – skincare
- Sephora – skincare
Gadget product testing
Mixed category product testing
- Clicks Research – mix of surveys and product testing, paid in points
- Home Tester Club – can be any type of product
- Ipsos i-Say* – mix of surveys and product testing, paid in points
- Pinecone Research – mix of surveys and product testing, paid in points
- Super Savvy Me – only P&G products and gadgets
- Tesco Home Panel – non-food products sold in Tesco
- Toluna – mix of surveys and product testing, paid in points
- TRND – can be any kind of product