When companies launch new products there's lots at stake. They pour millions - sometimes billions of pounds - into R&D, package design, manufacturing, advertising, logistics... the list goes on.
It's a huge risk for them because if the launch falls flat - like what happened to that bottled water Coke bought out a few years back - it's a huge waste of money.
No one - not even Coke - can afford that in this economic climate. So instead, companies large and small are turning to regular folks to help them fine-tune their products before they hurl them at the mercy of the wider market.
In short: businesses will pay you for your time and your opinion about their products.
Some firms will send you their new product to use for a few weeks. You report back at the end of that period with your honest opinion; they pay you - either in cash, vouchers or air miles. Some even let you keep the product you're testing as payment!
These types of review are usually conducted by a market research firm on behalf of individual
companies and you can sign up online!
There's no catch - you just have to be prepared to share your opinion.
Try these two online review websites for starters:
There are other websites out there if you Google "paid market research"
Other companies will want your help BEFORE the manufacturing stage. So they'll invite you to attend a meeting where they'll ask you a bunch of questions and get you to participate in a discussion about your likes and dislikes.
Or they'll talk to you on the phone, or you'll participate in an online chat. Whatever, they'll
usually pay you in cash - sometimes as much as £150 a pop.
Again, these "Focus Groups" are usually coordinated by research agencies. Here are three to take a look at - but there are more out there if you Google "Focus Group":
And the best bit about all of this? You don't need any kind of qualification to be a paid reviewer.
Okay, not many blokes are going to be asked to test the latest underwired bra (though I know a few who could) but unless the product is gender specific, pretty much anyone can offer - and get paid for - their opinion.
Sounds like money for nothing to me.
If you're not the shy retiring type, give it a go. It could bring the cost of your Christmas down