Imagine a company sending you their latest product and begging you to test it for them - before it's even reached the stores. Maybe it's a new shampoo, a brand of ground coffee or a household cleaning product. You spend two weeks using it and then it's time to give your feedback to the manufacturer. Did it work? Was it tasty? Did it do the job efficiently? Thank to the efforts of you and other product testers, the manufacturer will then feel confident that they have a solid, marketable product they can launch - or maybe realise they need to go back to the drawing board.
Sounds Like Fun?
Product testing is becoming an increasingly popular way to work from home. Do things in your own time, at your own pace, and receive the kind of goods that you regularly use, for free. Maybe even get vouchers or cash for your efforts!
This research is an important step for manufacturers in their product development cycle. They want to know how good their product is and how it can be improved, because once they put it out on the market they need to be confident that it will sell.
Why Do It? How Much will you Earn?
Of course, you won't be able to give up your day job on product testing alone. Your earnings are likely to be the equivalent of approximately 5 to 70 Euros per month, depending on how many products you test. However, some of the products that you test you will get to keep, so it's a way of receiving household goods free of charge. Many testers also get involved because they enjoy giving their feedback. Everyone loves to voice their opinions, and it's not often that consumers get the feeling that a big company is directly interested in the things they have to say.
When you first start out it is unlikely that you will get expensive products sent to you. However, the more you test, the more likely you are to become recognised by the product testing company as a reliable and trustworthy tester - and the more likely they are to send you higher value or better paid products in future.
What Does Product Testing Involve?
Testing a product will usually involve receiving an item, perhaps as a small sample or full size product, along with explicit instructions on how it needs to be tested. This might just mean using it instead of your regular product for a couple of weeks, or if you receive two identical products you use them side by side. Alternatively, one sample might be tested for the first week and a second sample sent out to be used for the second week.
Giving feedback is normally done via a questionnaire online or through custom software supplied by the product testing company. You might be asked to fill out a log every time you use the product, at the end of a set time period (e.g. a week) or at the end of the trial.
It's not just household products that get tested this way, but also websites and software. This is referred to as beta testing - the software is in a state where it is mostly developed but not yet ready for launch. Your job would be to ensure that the website or software performs as intended, that it is user friendly and intuitive, that menus and button clicks go through to the correct page or window, and that all the functions execute correctly and without bugs or errors.
What To Avoid
Of course, not all product testing companies are genuine. Ones to avoid are those who promise extremely valuable and desirable products such as an iPad, who ask you to pay a fee in order to register, or who ask for confidential information during the sign up process. Often the promised products will not materialise and the so-called product testing company will keep charging you a fee each month in the hope that you will forget to cancel it. They may also include a disclaimer hidden in the small print that allows them to pass on your contact details, such as email and telephone number, to third parties who will then start sending you spam or cold calling you.
How to Get Involved
In order to become a product tester, you must be an adult, fit and in good health, be able to follow instructions, write in clear, comprehensible English and use the internet.
If that description fits you, then your next step is simply to sign up to a product testing website. The company will ask you to fill out information about your age, employment status, job industry, general interests, whether you are a home owner or renting, whether you own a car, the demographics of your household, what kinds of products you buy when grocery shopping and so on.
When a product for a particular demographic needs to be tested, all this information allows the product testing company to choose the right recipients. After all, it's no use sending a car wash product to someone who doesn't own a car, or baby food to someone without a young child.
This is why it's important to be honest when completing your profile. Ticking things you are not interested could mean you get sent more products, but you probably won't be able to give the kind of feedback that companies want. It's much better to earn your reputation as a reliable tester by sticking to goods that you regularly use or enjoy anyway.
Companies Offering Product Testing
Buyer's Club is an online discount grocery store that shoppers can join for free. One of the features of their membership is the opportunity to sign up for testing, as products will not be added to their listing until it has been reviewed by a team of testers. While Buyer's Club will not pay you for testing, you will receive the product for free.
Another reputable product testing company is Toluna. By participating in surveys participants can earn points, which can then be used to select rewards such as DVDs, online vouchers, perfume, a spa voucher, a hotel break or even a 20 minute helicopter ride. The testing centre allows you to select a specific product that you wish to test such as a nail polish or gardening gloves, and a randomly selected sample of users will be sent that product.
Clicks Global Research asks users to complete surveys or sign up for product testing in order to earn points. Once 2500 points have been earned, the user can then claim 30 Euros which they will receive as a cheque in the post.
What Have You got to Lose?
Product testing will not make you rich, but it could be a very rewarding and enjoyable way to try out new goods, receive rewards and earn a little bit of cash.