Product Testing

Product testing, also called consumer testing or comparative testing, is a process of measuring the properties or performance of products. The theory is that since the advent of mass production manufacturers produce branded products which they assert and advertise to be identical within some technical standard.

Product testing seeks to ensure that consumers can understand what products will do for them and which products are the best value. Product testing is a strategy to increase consumer protection by checking the claims made during marketing strategies such as advertising, which by their nature are in the interest of the entity distributing the service and not necessarily in the interest of the consumer. The advent of product testing was the beginning of the modern consumer movement.

Product testing might be accomplished by a manufacturer, an independent laboratory, a government agency, etc. Often an existing formal test method is used as a basis for testing. Other times engineers develop methods of test which are suited to the specific purpose. Comparative testing subjects several replicate samples of similar products to identical test conditions.

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Testing and Qualification

The most common industry role is to provide products and services according to industry standards. In any industry some standards will be voluntary (which means that the industry practices self-regulation), or mandatory (which means that a government issues a regulation).

Every major consumer product industry has an associated trade organization whose duties include developing voluntary standards and promoting the industry. A trade association may also facilitate compliance testing or certification that a particular manufacturer's products meet certain standards. "Voluntary" standards may seem either optional or mandatory from the perspective of a manufacturer, and in many cases when an industry adopts a standard it puts pressure on all manufacturers to comply with the standard. Industry voluntary standards are typically minimal performance criteria with no reference to quality.

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