One of my first and by far the most favourite product tests was alcoholic beverage sampling.
Well it was technically a taste test. It was back when I was in College and Smirnoff Ice or maybe Mike’s Hard Lemonade (is that still a thing?) was trying new flavours of a vodka cooler.
It paid $150!
For a poor student Stan, it was AMAZING. It was on a Friday afternoon. All I had to do is try a few drinks, tell them what I thought, collect the cash and I gotta tell, I walked out in a verrrrryyyy good mood.
But back to the topic. If you’ve read any of our focus group city guides on our blog, you know that many companies offer product testing as one of their study options.
Product testing is a popular choice among focus group participants because it is fun, exciting, and typically done in your own home, on your own terms. Also, it’s like getting paid twice: in product and in cash. It’s not cheating, I promise!
Curiosity piqued yet? It should be! Keep reading to learn how easy it is to get paid for testing products.
What are product tests?
Product tests, like focus groups, are a way for brands and companies to receive feedback on their products and services. Food companies’ versions of product tests are called taste tests and generally follow the same process.
Companies send their products to general consumers like you and me in exchange for public or private feedback. This helps them increase their value proposition, decide which products to launch or discontinue, improve market share, and overall make better decisions.
For consumers, it’s a behind the scenes look into some popular or fresh products/brands. And of course, an excellent side-gig.
Is product testing like getting free samples?
There are two dimensions of product testing: free and paid.
Free product tests run aplenty and are similar to receiving free samples, except typically they send full-size products in exchange for a review or feedback. Popular companies like BzzAgent and Influenster offer free products.
Though they run in the same circles, paid product testing is not the same as receiving free samples or full-size products. Yes, there is more work and requirements involved, but you also get paid instead of merely receiving free samples. You get paid to give feedback for full-size or full-experience products – and most companies allow you to keep them too!
We are focusing on paid product testing in this article.
Many people do both, or start with free samples/products and get opportunities to do product tests either on their own or by leveraging their influence. Read more about how to get free samples here.
How do you become a paid product tester?
The process of product testing is pretty similar to signing up for other focus groups. In fact, many focus groups that we recommend list product tests on their databases.
To get started, you will need to sign up for a few market research companies that offer this type of study. Like we noted above, there are free and paid product tests, so it’s important to sign-up with the right companies. Don’t worry, we list some good ones in this article.
Once you sign up, you will fill out some general demographic information about you and your household. This information determines which products you will qualify to receive.
Is product testing safe?
Traditionally, focus groups, product tests, and other related market research is conducted in person. In the digital age, more companies are supplementing in-person studies with more convenient and accessible online studies.
Coronavirus has only accelerated this trend. Many market research companies closed at the beginning of 2020 and reopened with considerable restrictions, so online studies are becoming the new normal.
With product tests, many times there is no need to leave your house. You have control over the specific precautions you want to take. Products are typically shipped to you, and you send feedback through survey, write-up, or video form (it’s up to the company to decide).
If you are comfortable, some companies request an in-person experience to get more detailed feedback, but that opportunity is rare.
However, taste tests are typically conducted in person and have other factors you should consider: food allergies, sanitation, general food safety practices, etc.
What are the best product testing companies?
First, it is important to note: legit market research companies will never ask you to pay for a product. Also, remember the difference we noted between free product testing vs. paid product testing. Both are legit, but definitely take an extra moment to realize which you are signing up for so you are not disappointed.
Remember, companies pay you (either in cash or in product) for your time and detailed review: it’s a completely fair value exchange.
With that out of the way, let’s review some of the top market research companies that pay you to test products:
We recommend Toluna often for their wide variety of online studies, including product tests! Toluna focuses on general household and cosmetic goods. They operate in a points system – once you earn $10 you can cash out.
This option requires a knack for detail and technology. Basically, User Testing asks participants to test websites and apps for user interface and experience. They pay $10 through Paypal for each completed test, which takes about 20 minutes.
Vindale ranks on quite a few lists as a higher-paying firm, paying up to $50 per study. They offer a wide range of studies: from special interests/knowledge to general consumer products. Check out their website for insight on their payment model.
Product companies themselves sometimes offer programs that solicit user feedback directly. Here are a few that actually pay in rewards other than free product:
Do we recommend product testing?
The short answer is yes! I personally tested quite a few products in exchange for cash. And I like getting free samples too. So product testing is really the best of both worlds, and there are plenty of companies that offer this option. I wish I knew about it sooner!
This woman even made a full-time job out of it! However, we don’t necessarily recommend that at first. Product testing can be very unpredictable in pay and frequency. Still, she shows the possibility of opportunity!
Have you gotten paid as a product tester, or will you try it after reading this article? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!