Friday, March 27, 2009

The Lowdown on Product Testing - Part 1

Today, we’re beginning a new series on consumer product testing. For the past few years, I’ve been a product tester for numerous market research firms and manufacturers. Not only do I get to try the latest products on the market, but I also get to keep them for free along with high-value coupons to purchase more or pass along to my friends. In this series, I’ll tell you about the companies I work with, the necessary time commitment, and benefits of product testing.

How It Works

When manufacturers are considering bringing new products to market, they look to ordinary consumers to test-drive their product concepts and provide honest feedback and opinions. Some manufacturers, like General Mills, have their very own market research division which works directly with consumers to generate feedback on new or existing products on the market. Other manufacturers hire market research firms to work with consumers to generate feedback.

Product Tester Precautions

All the companies I work with are free to sign up. There is never a cost to test out the products. If you fit the consumer profile they are targeting, you will be invited to participate in the test free of charge. Be extremely wary of any market research firm that changes a fee to sign up.

The Perks of Product Testing

Product testing is a great way to stretch your grocery budget. It allows you to try new products without the investment in something you’re not sure whether you will like or not. It also allows you to provide your feedback to manufacturers on what you like about a product or what you would change. Your opinions influence what ends up on the market.

Product Privacy

Some testing companies focus on product development and testing new product concepts. In this case, often the tester is required to keep the product information confidential. Other testing companies focus on new products that have just come on the market. Their goal is to get people talking about their new products and generate excitement for these products. In this case, testers are free to share product information with everyone.

Product Tester Requirements

Tester requirements vary by company, but most require only a small time commitment. Some require the tester to complete surveys from time-to-time to help match consumer tester profiles to the product target consumer. Others require only you to complete an initial questionnaire when registering. Still others monitor your participation and quality of feedback on initial product tests to determine eligibility for future product tests.
Here are just a few of the products I’ve tested over the years: Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner, Pledge Dusters, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Yoplait Yogurt, YoBaby Yogurt, Smuckers Uncrustables, Coca-Cola products, Taco Bell products…and on and on.

Up Next: In Part 2, I’ll tell you about SheSpeaks, the market research firm for which I’m currently testing Haagen Dazs ice cream. Later, in Part 3, I’ll talk about BzzAgent, a word of mouth firm for which I’m currently testing Boston Market products, Palmolive dish soap, and Afrin.

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