Product testing sounds too good to be true. Getting free products delivered to you, all in exchange for your opinion?
Crazy as it may seem, product testing is a legitimate way to score free products – and it’s surprisingly easy to get started.
Product Testing Australia: What You Need to Know
What is Product Testing?
Brands and market research companies sometimes offer samples of a product or service to a number of regular people in exchange for an opinion – that’s product testing.
Free samples are not quite the same thing, as the company is allowing you to try their product just in the hope that you will buy it and maybe even recommend it to others.
Product testers try a product to give feedback on how they feel about the product, whether it performs correctly, and how likely they would be to purchase that product – and often their reviews form part of the marketing and advertising direction for the product.
Product testers can actually influence whether a product is released, and how the company approaches the marketing for that product. It’s an important job!
Product testing can come in a number of different varieties. Sometimes products are sent to a physical address with very specific instructions on how to use them.
Occasionally product testers will purchase an item themselves, for the company to reimburse them and normally offer a little bit extra for their trouble (note: please make sure the company is legit before agreeing to this type of arrangement).
Products aren’t always physical items. App developers, website owners and some services need the public’s opinion as a quality check before they offer their product or service to the general population.
There is a wide range of opportunities available for product testers.
Why Do Companies Need Product Testers?
If you can see an item on a supermarket shelf, it has been through a very long process to make sure it will appeal to customers. Companies go through many stages before they release a product to the public.
Most of those stages happen “in-house”, with product developers and marketing experts. But there comes a time where all the fantastic theories about what will work have to be tested in the real world so the company can answer their most important question – “Will it sell?”
As one of the last stages of development, companies will ask real people to test the product to gather their feedback. They need a wide range of people, to check that their product has broad appeal.
For that reason, it’s important that the testers are real-life people with no hidden agendas – just everyday Australians who can give their opinions and answer, “Yes, I would buy that” or “No, that product needs work”.
If you are someone who buys products (and who isn’t?!), you have an opinion that companies need – and they’re willing to pay for it.
It’s important to remember that these types of online opportunities are never going to pay enough to allow you to quit your day job, and you shouldn’t expect your mailbox to be flooded with products.
You would be more likely to see products on a weekly or monthly basis, or possibly even less, depending on how much your profile fits the profile of the kind of opinion the companies are after.
But that being said, it’s worth it to get involved – especially when it comes to free products which save you money for minimal effort, right?
Here’s how to get on board with product testing.
How to Get Started as a Product Tester
There are many different market research companies that work with big-name brands to find people to test their products.
Some specialise in product testing, while others offer all sorts of market research options (think paid survey sites).
For the best results, it’s a good idea to sign up to a wide range of sites to increase your chances of landing product testing opportunities. As long as they are legit market research sites, they will likely all offer slightly different prospects.
The Best Product Testing Sites for Australians
So now, let’s look at some of the best places to get started with product testing.
Not all opportunities will be available all the time, so if there is a site that isn’t currently accepting applicants it’s a good idea to sign up for a waitlist (if that’s available) or to check back every now and again.
It’s not surprising that the best sites will be popular so it could be worth the wait.
Here are some of the top Australian sites that offer free product testing:
Brand Power is a well-known brand itself (helping you buy better, as the ad says). But where does the marketing company behind Brand Power go for product reviews?
The answer is the Home Tester Club. With a wide range of everyday products from major brands available to sample, the Home Tester Club is a trusted way to receive products to sample.
Members need to fill out a profile once and then register for product trials. A select number of reviewers are chosen out of the applicants and sent a product to test.
After receiving a product, reviewers get a few days and are then asked to leave their honest opinion. Sometimes extra products are sent for families and friends to review as well.
The Home Tester Club doesn’t offer any additional compensation, but it’s a top choice for Australians who want to trial free products and has big name brands on board.
Black Box is a company based in Auckland who offers product testing opportunities across New Zealand and parts of Australia. Members need to sign up, complete their profile, and then wait to see if they get matched with a product campaign.
If a campaign does come up that matches the information provided in the user profile, the member goes into a draw with all the other members who also matched.
Those chosen will receive a Black Box containing a number of full-sized free product samples to test. The company then provide a survey after testing the products as a way to leave the reviews.
Members are taking their chances that their profile will match with what the companies are looking for, and then the name still has to be chosen, but it’s free and simple to sign up, so – why not?
The only real catch for Australians is that Black Box is currently only available in NSW, Victoria & Canberra.
“Mums are largely in charge of $32B worth of household spending”. When you put it like that, it makes sense that companies would want to connect directly with Mums to find out whether their products would find their way into their shopping trolleys.
Kids Business specifically target mums for their opinions, connecting brands with social media opportunities through these caregivers. Social Mums is the name of the group of product testers that make up the Kids Business panel of reviewers. Signing up is a simple matter of providing an email address, and when the emails arrive there will be prompts to follow in order to have a chance as one of the reviewers.
Mouths of Mums is set up like a community, with members reviewing and recommending products, services and experiences. They host frequent giveaway competitions, promote recipes, and publish articles about relevant current events. Mouths of Mums also allow members to apply to test products.
To test products with this site, you will first need to be a member. Members can go to the “Reviews” tab and see what is on offer. If there is a product that is suitable, the member will then complete the application process. In addition to asking for product-specific questions to see if you meet the requirements, the form could ask if you’re prepared to:
- Leave at least two reviews
- Publish photos and hashtags to your social media
- Submit a short video review
Product testing opportunities come up regularly. The site, in general, is worth getting involved in, with plenty of competitions to enter and other bonuses.
Social Soup is the largest community of product influencers in Australia. Their brand purpose is to develop integrated platforms between brands and the people who buy them.
Social “Soupers”, as the product testers are called, use an app that is available from Google Play or the Apple Store.
The app has a sign-in process similar to other product testing sites, with a profile to complete. Social Soup suggests that the profile be updated as often as possible to maximise the chances of being chosen for a product review.
Because of the social media component of the company, product testers are even more likely to receive opportunities to trial products if they link their Facebook and/or Instagram accounts.
That allows them to post reviews online, increasing marketing exposure for the products. These samples tend to be smaller in size, but should be enough to get a feel for the product.
Mums Say is the product testing section of the popular parenting site Kidspot. First of all, interested reviewers need to sign up as members on the Kidspot site. Then, they will need to specifically sign in to Mums Say, by going to the “reviews” tab on the site.
All Kidspot members are eligible, as long as they are residing in Australia. After signing up to Mums Say, members will be emailed about product reviews and other opportunities. The emails will contain a link that allows the member to answer more personal questions, just to check they’re a good fit.
If selected, the Mums Say member will receive their products in the mail, along with an email that outlines the next steps to take in order to leave a great review.
Beauty Product Review
If samples of grocery items don’t get you excited, this next category might. Makeup brands need people who will test their products and leave reviews as well. There are many different opportunities around, but due to their popularity, they can fill up fairly quickly.
Beauty Heaven is largely based on reviewing products. It’s free to join, and members get points for submitting reviews for products they have already tried. At different times throughout the year, they can redeem those points for full-sized beauty products.
There is also a Beauty Heaven trial team – after submitting at least 5 reviews that are accepted by the Beauty Heaven site (not a difficult task), members are eligible to apply to join the Review Team. Members are emailed about new product testing opportunities. If selected, the beauty products are sent in the mail, and reviewers have a specified amount of time before their reviews are due.
The Beauty Crew have a similar system with their Review Crew, however, they are not often open for new members. It’s worth checking frequently to see if new places have opened up.
For these beauty sites, there are plenty of products from well-known brands like Maybelline and L’Oréal, but there are some opportunities to try high-end makeup products. Once again, keeping an accurate and up-to-date profile is key to being selected, as some important information (skin type, age range etc.) determines who receives the products.
Sometimes a brand has enough followers to look for testers within their own fan base. For example, beauty brand Happy Skin Care is currently looking for product testers. If you love a particular brand (particularly if they are smaller and less likely to outsource their marketing) then it pays to stay in touch. Newsletters and websites can occasionally be used to give followers the chance to try new products. However, this process is pretty hit and miss.
Not so long ago, all the news channels were hyping up an opportunity for product testers with Aldi. Called the Aldi Testers Club, members sign up for the year and receive regular parcels throughout their time containing new products to sample and review.
While it was free to join, signing up required people to explain why they would be ideal product testers. The real kicker is the limited spaces. In 2017, 17,000 people applied for only 100 spots. While it might be an exciting group to be involved with (especially if you love all things Aldi), the chances of actually getting in are tiny.
Woolworths have a similar group. Called the Woolworths Bunch, it is easy to find their reviews, but less easy to find how to sign up. If reviewing products from Woollies is your thing, it might be worth keeping a close eye on new intakes for the Woolworths Bunch.
Review Your Own Products
For people who are more interested in the reviewing side rather than receiving new products, some sites allow members to review products they already own. Some, like The Baby Industry, are more concerned with creating a community of reviewers and offer features like a “wish list” that helps parents decide on what products they might need for their children.
Tell Me Baby also encourage members to review products they have bought themselves, but in return parents receive vouchers to spend at their favourite stores. Claiming to be Australia’s largest baby product review site, the advantage of this system is that instead of receiving products to trial that you may or may not like, parents can take advantage of the products they already own to get gifts they actually want.
Survey sites are a common way for savvy parents to earn cash and rewards online, but many sites offer product testing as part of their market research system.
While product testing is one great feature of these sites, the surveys they offer are another way that members can influence major brands by sharing their opinions.
Surveys can ask questions about products that are yet to be released, with the opinions gathered going towards real decisions about pricing and packaging, for example.
Each site tends to reward its members differently, but either points or a cash reward is on offer for completing these surveys, which can usually be redeemed for prizes like gift vouchers or PayPal deposits. Members also have the satisfaction of knowing about products weeks or months before everyone else.
The Importance of Profiles
Demographics are statistical information that describes a population. Demographic information is how market researchers can make sure they target the people they want – maybe they want all females between the ages of 20-30, or maybe they want a wide range of people from all walks of life.
That means that a legitimate market research company won’t share identifying information like names and addresses, but it does share basic information in order to make sure the profile fits the brief.
So instead of Mary Scott from 123 Park Way, researchers will see a female who lives in the postcode 4000 (and any other identifiers they need).
When it comes to product testing Australians who have the most success are those who spend time filling out the profile information. It can feel a bit tedious, but these kinds of questions are what allow market researchers to understand their product testers, and to find people who fit their brief.
For example, if a company wanted to know whether stay-at-home mums in Victoria would purchase a new range of dog food, they would look for someone who had indicated that they were:
- A mother
- Not working
- Does most/all of the shopping
- Lives in Victoria
- Owns a dog
It definitely pays to spend time on the profile section. Most often, companies want a varied population to sample their product, so the more detail you give, the more likely that you will tick the boxes that the researchers are looking for.
If you’re finding the process of signing up takes a little while, think about setting aside a chunk of time to sign up to multiple sites in one big go (bring snacks!), or signing up to one a day to space the process out.
Some Tips to Stay Safe
The sites here have been checked, and are legitimate and safe to join. However, for people who go hunting for their own opportunities, it’s a good idea to keep online safety in mind.
To get the most out of product testing and survey sites, you will need to fill in information about yourself. Make sure the right people are getting hold of your information. There are three types of sites:
- Legitimate sites (like the ones mentioned here). These sites have strong privacy policies and are careful about your personal data.
- Sites that pretend to offer product testing opportunities, but are really there to collect your data (like phone numbers) and sell it to telemarketers and scammers.
- Scam sites that exist to steal your credit card details or similar valuable information.
Always choose an endorsed site, and a quick google search for “nameofsite.com reviews” will often tell you all you need to know. If in doubt, make sure you stay out.
Making the Most of Opportunities
For people imagining sitting at home while the parcels of products to test roll in, product testing might be a bit disappointing. For someone who is excited at the prospect of something in return for basically nothing (what are a few quick reviews?!), any free product is an exciting bonus.
To increase your chances, be sure to keep memberships to as many legitimate sites as possible up to date, with all your profile information filled out. Many communities reward members who get involved, so check in as often as possible and get in the habit of writing reviews.
Doing the shopping for the household, you might not feel powerful. In fact, your opinion is worth a great deal to some pretty massive companies. Make the most of your time online and you can actually get something in return.
Product testing is a great opportunity to have some fun, to make your opinion count, and to try some great products for free.