THERE’S nothing better than a freebie – and product testing is a great way to get your hands on everything from make-up and perfume to food and cleaning products.
Loads of big name brands send out their products for testing so if you can get on the panels, you can get items for absolutely nothing.
You can test out products from retailers including Boots and The Body Shop in return for honest feedback
How does product testing work?
Marketing companies, supermarkets and brands regularly send out products to consumers – either to test consumer claims or to spread influence.
You can either sign up directly with brands or with organisations that run tests for lots of different companies.
Once you’re on the panel, you’ll be sent products to try out in return for feedback via a survey or sharing your opinion with friends.
Most of the companies target specific demographics, so you won’t necessarily get sent everything the firm is testing.
And you’ll usually have to fill in a short questionnaire to see if you’re the right fit.
How to become a super testerHERE are our top tips for making sure companies keep sending you freebies time and time again:
Answer lots of surveys – The more surveys you complete, the more chances you have to be sent free stuff.
Be quick – There’s normally a limited number of samples, so if a product testing opportunity arrives in your inbox that you like the look of – move quickly!
Set up a dedicated email address – If you’re going to sign up to loads of sites, you don’t want the emails clogging up your usual inbox. Set up a dedicated account specifically for surveys and freebies, and remember to check it each morning.
Give proper reviews – When you are sent products to review, make sure you do a thorough job. If you just leave empty boxes or say it was “fine” you’re less likely to be asked again.
Only select products you’re interested in – It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of getting freebies, but if you sign up for a cat food test and you don’t have a cat, you’re only wasting your own time.
Follow brands you love on Facebook – Some brands (Revlon and L’Oreal are two examples) periodically look for new testers. Follow your favourite brands on social media to be first in the know when they want testers or offer up freebies.
Be professional – Check your spelling and grammar carefully, so brands can use anonymous quotes in marketing.
For example, some brands will only send products to women with children under a certain age, while others might be targeting dads under 40.
Fortunately, there are brands looking for all types of testers, so you should be able to find something that works for you.
The downside is that looking for products you want to test can be time-consuming, but it can be worthwhile once you bag some freebies – and it will definitely save you cash.
Some companies will even pay you extra to test products, on top of getting the free items.
Steve Nowottny from MoneySavingExpert.com, which has compiled its own product-testing guide, said: “To maximise your chances respond quickly, as the best freebies go fast, and then make sure you answer questions properly and promptly to boost your chances of future freebies.”
Here’s our round-up of some of the most popular product testing websites:
The supermarket’s Home Panels scheme is only open to Clubcard holders.
Sadly, the panel is full at the moment, but Tesco says it may be recruiting again in a few weeks.
You’d mainly be testing non-food products, with freebies including skincare, haircare, toiletries, household cleaners and clothing.
Even though it’s quite hard to be selected, you still get a point for filling in the survey to put yourself forwards and once you earn 50 points, you’ll be sent a £10 Bonus Bond voucher.
The vouchers can be spent at retailers, including Argos and Boots.
2. Clicks Research
Clicks Research gives out free products on behalf of some of the biggest brands including Liz Earle, Sanctuary, M&S, The Body Shop and Boots.
More than 600,000 people have signed up to its site from around the world.
To join, you simply need to be over the age of 18.
Again, if you’re not selected for a trial, you’ll still earn points each time you take part in a survey (usually between 25 to 200 points), and once you’ve earned 2,500, you’ll get £25 in cash.
All volunteers that participate in a survey but do not qualify to test free products are put into a regular prize draw.
If you enjoy being part of the Clicks team, you can also choose to be part of its elite Sensory Panel. This involves a small online training course that takes no more than half an hour to complete at home.
You can then join the Food Hall trials and Focus Groups where you’ll get to enjoy free products on the day and earn a generous reward too.
Get freebies by sharing feedback on social mediaYOU can also get freebies for posting reviews on social media.This means that rather than asking for general feedback, companies will ask you to discuss products with your friends on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The feedback doesn’t have to just be positive, it can be negative as well – as long as it’s honest.
Savvy Circle hands out goodies from brands including Olay, Fairy and Max Factor, and in return it asks that testers give feedback on the products, plus mention them in conversations with friends and family – both in person and online
According to MSE, you can earn loads of free products – including lotions and toiletries – with BzzAgent. As an “agent” you’ll be expected to start “meaningful and authentic conversations” about the freebies you receive with online and real-life friends.
3. Alba Science
Alba Science – which has around 15,000 home testers – offers freebies such as shampoos, lotions and oils, in exchange for a review that is posted on its website.
Currently it has live trials for face wipes (women aged 18 to 65) and face masks (women aged 20 to 55).
Alba said: “Our home user panel are asked to test products and provide their opinion. These products have all been safety tested and many are already on the market. Our clients are looking to substantiate marketing claims or to get consumer opinion.
“There is no cost to you and there is no catch! All we ask in return is for your opinion.”
The products and length of trial varies. You can register as a volunteer on its website by going here.
The Boots Volunteer panel tests the safety and performance of Boots skin care, cosmetics, sun care and toiletries including No7, Soltan, Soap & Glory, Botanics and Champneys.
There are two types of studies: home user ones where you test products and then complete feedback surveys online, and controlled on-site studies, which are carried out in the Boots evaluation centre in Nottingham.
Not everyone who applies will be accepted as Boots balances its volunteers to make sure it has a wide range of demographics.
Entry is closed at the moment, but it opens up every now and then, so it’s worth checking back.
It sends out approximately 30,000 samples a year.
Philips runs a product tester program to find out what consumers think of its new launches.
All you need to do is register with the site and apply for the different tests – although ‘My Philips’ members are already registered and can log in straight away.
You’ll either get products for free or at a discounted price – depending on what type of test it is.
Past tests have included everything from irons and hair clippers to breast pumps and electric toothbrushes.
Join the ELEMIS Review Panel for your chance to test and review brand new products before anyone else.
For each new product launch, ELEMIS selects a panel of reviewers based on their suitability and provides full size items to be tested and reviewed.
To apply to join the panel you can fill out a short form here.
Toluna claims to have 10million users, and feedback on forums is pretty good.
While it’s mostly known as an online survey site, it also gives away free products to test, such as shower gel, toothpaste and cosmetics.
You can sign up for a free account and choose – from the limited selection – which products you want to test.
To receive free products, visit the ‘testing’ area of the site (under rewards), and apply.
Toluna then randomly selects the testers, and once you receive the product you’ll be asked to send it your feedback.
HOUSE RULES Renters share landlord horror stories including ‘don’t take big s**ts’ BOXED UP This flat pack home costs £30k and takes just SIX HOURS to build CASHING IN Rare and most valuable 20p coins that could be worth up to £750 HOUSE IT’S DONE How £300 worth of Aldi furniture can add up to £15k to value of your home GRUB’S UP This is the latest you can order a McDonald’s breakfast before they stop serving FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD Frankie & Benny’s adds 26 dishes to menu including a breakfast PIZZA
My Mothercare asks families to test out products and give their opinion, in return for exclusive access to existing and new products.
Testers are selected at random depending on the type of product that needs trialling.
The testing process is tailored to the details you provide during registration – for instance the stage of your pregnancy or age of your child.
Mothercare says you could test from a whole range of well-known brands including Bugaboo, iCandy, Chicco and Fisher-Price.
9. Glamour Beauty Club
The Glamour Beauty Club will send you all sorts of face care and beauty products to test in return for your honest feedback.
To sign up, all you need to do is create your own beauty profile by providing a few bits of personal information.
Each beauty product is free, tailored to your taste, and will arrive in beautiful GLAMOUR packaging.
It includes products from top name brands such as NARS.
Every week LoveHoney sends out free sex toys, lubricants and other tester products out for review.
You get to keep the product and all the company asks for in response is an honest review.
In order to be considered as a tester you need to have already submitted some reviews to LoveHoney’s community site.
You can sign up and find out more here.
Can our taste testers tell the difference between Aldi and Lidl lookalike products compared to original sweets and snacks they aim to copy?
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 78 24516. Don’t forget to join the Sun Money’s Facebook group for the latest bargains and money-saving advice.