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Everything you need to know about product testing

Updated: May 25, 2022

Have you ever bought a product and thought, wow, this functionality and design is exactly the way I want it? Usually, when a product is easy to use and just makes sense, this is because it’s gone through something called product testing.

For companies, product testing provides valuable insights into a new product offering and how consumers are likely to respond to it. As consumers, product testing means you’ll buy a product that has likely been thoroughly researched and, as a result, works exactly the way you want it to.

So, what is product testing, and how can you determine if it’s what your company needs? And how do you become part of a product testing panel and get paid? Find the answers to these questions and more below.

What is product testing?

Product testing is a form of market research. So, in order to understand product testing, we must first understand what market research is. Market research is what companies use to test the viability of a product or service through research conducted with potential customers. This type of research can take place in the form of focus groups, surveys, interviews, assisted shops, and product testing.

Product testing is when a group of consumers tests a newly developed product before it enters the market where it will be sold. This is a research methodology that market research companies use to investigate how consumers react to a product.

Usually, a group of consumers who fall into the product’s target market, also known as a sample of the target audience, will be tasked with testing the product. This way, companies get user feedback on the product and can use this insight to develop and tailor a better product before launching it.

How do you do product testing?

Often, product testing takes place through a market research agency, much like us at Zest. The agency will have samples of audiences ready and lined up to test products. Often, the product will then be shipped to the test group for free in exchange for their raw and honest feedback.

Product testing panellists are often paid to test the product and may even be allowed to keep the product once the testing is complete.

Panellists will be required to use the product just as they would in their daily lives to get a real feel for the product before providing feedback.

For example, if the product being tested is an innovative new vacuum cleaner, members of the product testing group would be required to use the product in their homes as they usually would with any other vacuum.

Product testing generally takes place over a set period. This will allow those testing the product enough time to use it as they typically would and provide time for things to go wrong if this should be the case.

The market research agency will then contact the people testing the product to collect feedback. This feedback could be collected in the form of a survey, a focus group, or even a one-to-one interview.

What are the types of product testing?

There are two main types of product testing the companies can enter into. Most market research agencies will be equipped to offer both In-Home Usage Tests (IHUT) and Central Location Tests (CLT).

In-Home Usage Tests are like the vacuum cleaner example above. Consumers are sent a product to test out in their homes and provide feedback after using it. Central Location Tests are when products are tested in a controlled environment such as a booked venue or laboratory, where consumers can test products and share their experiences.

Is product testing legit?

If you are interested in joining market research panels to test products out and even get paid to do so, we have good news for you.

Most reputable product testing platforms are legit. In other words, what they say you’ll get is what you receive. Usually, legit product testing agencies will offer you a product to test, which you can keep even once the testing is complete, and payment for carrying out the test.

Market research agencies are often keen to pay for product testing and feedback if it means they will be reaching the exact target audience that their clients require.

While there is generally no guarantee you will be selected to test a product and be paid (this will only happen if you meet the criteria of the target market being researched), it’s worth signing up to reputable market research panels where you may be selected to receive a free product to test out.

How long does product testing take?

Let’s look at the vacuum cleaner example again. It would not make sense for a company to provide you with a vacuum cleaner which you test for one day. To really get to know the product and develop an opinion about it, you would need to use the vacuum over several weeks. You won’t pick up on potential faults or issues if you only use it for one day.

Usually, there will also be a set period for testing when the IHUT method is used.

When it comes to the CLT method, where products are tested in controlled environments, there will usually also be a time limit on how long the product is tested before feedback is collected.

When you sign up to become a panellist with Zest, you may wait a while to be contacted to test out a product. This is because you must meet the exact criteria of the target audience the product is intended for before you test it.

For companies wanting product testing conducted by a market research agency, it’s important to note that product testing takes time. From gathering a panel of consumers that meet your exact target market to sending out the product and awaiting feedback, the product testing process can be lengthy. However, the insight you will gain as a result is worth the wait.

The Zest difference

At Zest, we believe great product testing comes with great fieldwork. From respondents to testing environments and even perfectly run interviews, we ensure that product testing runs smoothly for the companies we serve. If you’re looking for high-quality insight from a market research partner, we’re happy to be the ‘zing’ in your amazing.

If you would like to test products and be paid for your feedback, we are always looking for panellists. We offer products for you to test at no cost to you and then pay you for your opinion. We also host online focus groups, surveys, and accompanied shopping trips that you can sign up for other than product testing.

If you are a business looking for an agency to add a little zest to your market research, contact us via our website. If you are interested in joining our panel and potentially being selected for product testing and other research, sign up here.


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