In the off-season, college athletes are working hard to perfect their skills, improve their performance and generally be in the best shape possible for the upcoming season. Simultaneously, product developers are doing something similar with their products. Just like athletes on the court or the field, today’s retail markets are highly competitive. Driving companies to constantly strive to improve their products in order to win over customers. One way athletic and sporting goods brands are ensuring that they not only meet but exceed customers' expectations is through the benefits of product testing with college athletes.

Before the implementation of the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy, which allows college athletes to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness, product testing with college athletes included several challenges for brands. Prior to NIL, college athletes were not allowed to receive compensation for their athletic abilities or endorsements. However, these restrictions were lifted in the summer of 2021. This has allowed for a new potential for college athletes to monetize their personal brand. Without risking their eligibility to play. For brands, this means a once-challenging process of navigating “compensation” and even communication with college athletes has been simplified in ways that relate directly to product testing with college athletes.

In this article, we’ll explore why college athletes make great product testers. Also, how recent rules and regulations changes make them more accessible, and how their involvement enhances the overall athletic apparel, footwear and sporting goods market.

The Value of College Athletes as Product Testers

Consumer-driven product testing  has emerged as a driving force behind successful product development and product launches. Feedback from college athletes is no exception. Athletes possess a unique combination of physical skills, product knowledge, and relevant experience in their sport’s customer community. Thus, making them perfect candidates for providing invaluable insights and feedback on current and future products. Their input ensures that products are tailored to not only meet the specific needs of athletes, but also:

  1. Empowers brands to create cutting-edge equipment, gear and apparel that can endure the rigors of intense training and competition.
  2. Elevates overall customer experiences. While, making athletic gear more enjoyable and effective for not only top athletes but relevant sports enthusiasts alike.
  3. Enables brands to enhance athletes' performance through advancements in materials, designs, and innovative technology. Pushing the possibilities within sports achievement even further!

By product testing with college athletes, manufacturers can gain insight into the rapidly evolving trends and preferences of the athletic market. College athletes represent a diverse range of both sports and consumers, all with distinct requirements and demands. Their participation in the product testing process ensures that new athletic gear aligns with the latest requirements in their respective sport and favorite activities. This product creation collaboration between athletes and manufacturers helps bridge the gap between market demands and product offerings. Ultimately, enhancing the market relevance of athletic apparel, footwear, and equipment. Yet, obtaining these valuable insights has been historically a challenge.

Football player jumping in air and celebrating with teamates

A History of Challenges with Product Testing with College Athletes prior to NIL

Engaging in product testing provides brands with an opportunity to connect with their intended audience. As well as, make substantial improvements to their products to better fit their needs.Before the emergence of NIL, athletic apparel, footwear and sporting goods brands faced difficulties in obtaining valuable product feedback from college athletes. This was attributed to some of the following factors:

1. Amateurs vs. Professionals: College athletes were considered amateurs, meaning they could not accept payment or benefits related to their athletic talents. Instead, they were only allowed to accept scholarships. This restriction made it difficult for brands to formally engage college athletes fom certain opportunities such as endorsements, or any form of promotional activity and more.

2. NCAA Eligibility Rules: The NCAA had strict eligibility rules. Accepting any kind of compensation could jeopardize an athlete's eligibility to participate in college sports. As a result, college athletes were cautious about engaging in any activities that could potentially lead to the loss of their eligibility.

3. Risk of Sanctions: Brands also risked legal action or sanctions from the NCAA if they were discovered to provide benefits or compensation to college athletes, violating the organization's rules.

With these factors considered, we can see why it was difficult for brands to establish connections with their target product tester audience. As well as, acquiring the essential feedback required to create exceptional products. Now testing with college athletes has opened doors for product developers.

Understanding NIL and How it Relates to Product Testing with College Athletes

The Division 1 Board of Directors made the decision on June 30, 2021, to approve the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy. This groundbreaking policy grants NCAA D1, D2, and D3 student-athletes the opportunity to receive compensation for their NIL, starting from July 1, 2021. Remarkably, this compensation applies regardless of whether their respective state has enacted NIL legislation. It allows college student-athletes in states without an NIL law the freedom to receive compensation for their NIL activities. As long as they adhere to the guidelines that prohibit pay-for-play arrangements or financial incentives related to program recruitment or retention.

This new avenue enables college athletes to explore endorsement deals, partnerships, and unique opportunities, including product testing with athletic footwear, apparel and equipment brands. By embracing these product testing opportunities, college athletes can not only receive incentives but also contribute to the advancement of athletic gear and apparel they rely on to perform in their sports. Product testing with college athletes is a mutually beneficial scenario for both athletes and brands.

Benefits of Product Testing with College Athletes

Product testing stands as a mutual benefit for both college athletes and brands. The gear and clothing an athlete use play an immense role in their on-field and off-field performance, and athletes rely on their products to meet their standards. It's crucial for brands to possess the insights necessary to design products that align with athletes' performance expectations. This is precisely where product testing comes into play.

College athletes are consistently striving to enhance their skills, and searching for products that can elevate their overall performance and gameplay. Engaging in testing with college athletes provides them the opportunity to integrate the product into their routines and ensure it lives up to their standards.

Popular Inisghts From Athletes:

  1. Assessment of Product Durability: Athletes can illustrate the product's performance over time through feedback logs. During a test, testers are able to bring the product into their everyday routine. By doing so, they can give insight as to how well a product withholds through wear & washes.
  2. Issue identification: Given the common wear and tear experienced by athletes, MESH01 enables testers to promptly notify brands of any critical product issues uncovered during testing. Additionally, testers can report on discomfort or other quality problems encountered throughout the testing period. This feedback ensures that countless others receive a quality product that meets or exceeds their expectations every time.
  3. Skill-level and age-group comparison: The testing process provides brands with a practical understanding and real-world comparison of product fit across diverse skill levels and age groups. MESH01 has streamlined the process of connecting with brands’ target audience and offers the advantage of placing their products directly into the hands of the most fitting and qualified individuals. The MESH01 community holds a wide variety of athletes of varying skill level & activities. Hyper-specific attributes can narrow down tester's profiles. These attributes include demographics, lifestyle information, interests and activities, participation, occupation details, shopping preferences and more.
  4. Feedback on Design & Style:  Athletes are always looking for the next best product to improve their overall game and experience during play – with design and style yielding no exception. Testers provide honest evaluations on elements like design, style, and color, guiding brands on what resonates well and what might not.

For college athletes, a high-quality product is a necessity. Through product testing via MESH01, brands are able to consistently meet athletes' expectations and continue to bring game-changing products to the market every time.

I’m a College Athlete! How Can I Help Change the World Of Athletic Apparel, Footwear, and Sporting Goods?

As an athlete, you may be navigating through the new rules and regulations brought by the NIL. However, being a member of the MESH01 product tester community can eliminate the hurdles of attempting to establish connections with brands. Instead, it directly connects you with many of the biggest and best brands in athletic apparel, footwear and sporting goods.

For years, the world’s most recognizable brands and retailers have trusted MESH01 with their product testing experience. And yes, they are actively looking to engage athletes like you! It’s an exciting opportunity when you’re selected to participate in a product test – let alone be invited to take part in your favorite brands product development process. Interested athletes can join this community here!

Volleyball player hitting ball over net while opposing team defends.

When selected to participate in a product test, you will be joining countless other athletes, from weekend warriors to professional athletes! You recieve opportunities based on your respective sport or favorite activities. In return, you are expected not only to test incredible products but also to provide firsthand feedback through surveys, activity logs, performance zones, uploads of images/videos, and more.

Great Athletes Need Great Products

The emergence of NIL legislation has breathed new life into the world of college athletics. By allowing college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness, athletes now can thrive in ways like never before. Such as contributing to the athletic market in new and exciting ways. As a tester, college athletes can now use their knowledge off the field and help pave the way for brands by offering their expertise. As products continue to become refined and improved-we can thank our vast community of athletes for their involvement.

According to Pew Research, nearly 73% of adults seek extra knowledge for personal and work-related reasons. Digital technology plays a notable role in these pursuits. New technologies have opened new doors when it comes to learning through connections. This allows us to learn more about ourselves, others, and the world around us. As parents, we are continuously trying to learn more about our children's interests and connect with them on their experiences, activities, and even the products they use. In this article, we’ll look at how parents and kids are sharing the product experience through technology.

Connecting Parents and Their Children Through Retail and Fashion Technology

The accessibility through new technology to social trends and information often encourages regularly us to learn more about the world around us. For parents, this often means trying to keep up with their kids’ homework, latest interest, and trends. Kids’ apparel and footwear are a big part of this! According to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Texas, your child’s way of dressing is a form of self-expression. Encouraging children to express themselves from an early age is vital for their overall development and self-confidence. Self-expression also fosters feelings of independence, self-advocacy, and creativity.

While it may be difficult for parents to keep up with the latest kids’ clothing and footwear trends, new product experience technologies are making it easier for parents to learn more about the styles their children are interested in. There are multiple ways a parent can learn more about what is popular amongst their children’s age group. Including some of the following:

  • Virtual Shopping & Virtual Reality
  • Fashion Blogs & Online Magazines
  • Virtual Media Outlets
A parent sharing the kids' product experience with their child through product testing

These developments in technology are quickly changing the way parents learn about and shop for new clothing. Switching roles to the purchaser for a child, a new way parents can learn more about their children's clothing experiences is through concept and product testing. Through kids’ apparel and footwear concept and product testing, parents can directly share in the clothing experiences of their children. Further, this shared experience is a critical step brands take to make great products. So, by sharing the product experience with your children through product testing, you're helping to shape the future of product experiences for children in general.

So how does it work?

On MESH01, as a parent product tester, you are invited to participate in testing opportunities on behalf of children. Through these product testing experiences, you will be joining countless other parents and children receiving new products designed to meet kids’ and parents’ expectations. Through digital surveys, activity logs, performance zones, image/video uploads, and more, parents can give first-hand feedback that helps brands create exceptional products. This will help ensure comfort and performance for the little ones. Product and concept testing brings about a new and interactive way for parents to connect with their children. It helps them learn more about their clothing and preferences that are actually within the product development process.

3 Ways Concept and Product Testing are Bringing Parents and Children Together Through the Kids' Product Experience

How does concept and product testing help parents learn about their children?

Normally, as a MESH01 Product Tester you are helping brands bring product ideas to life. In doing this, you are also shaping the world of products for the better through your honest and direct feedback. As a tester, brands value your opinion, your experience, and your personal taste! While participating in kids’ concept and product testing opportunities with and on behalf of your kids – you can learn some things about your kids as brands learn from both of you. This includes:

  • Understanding your child’s personal style. Through children’s feedback on product tests, parents are given the opportunity to learn even more about their child's product preferences. Whether it is how they may want to put their own spin on a new trend through an outfit choice, to when and where their child prefers different styles, the product testing process often digs into these details so that brands can create styles that match your kids' needs.
  • Gaining exposure to new and different clothing trends. With kids' fashion trends changing so rapidly, it can be tough to keep up with them. Through concept and product testing, parent product testers often get to learn about and shape upcoming trends. Most importantly which trends your child gravitates towards the most. It's like having a sneak peek where you're voices are heard.
  • Better understand your child’s decision-making process: We all have our preferences when choosing clothing. Color, fabrics, and silhouettes are all something that makes the shopping experience so unique and personal to every one of us. Through concept testing, your decisions are responsible for identifying, curating, and nurturing future product opportunities. Since brands are already relying on which design or color concept your child may prefer, it is also a great opportunity to learn more about what your child looks for and how they choose clothing.

Learning more about your child is an ongoing process, and advances in technology are making it easier to connect with them in certain areas of life. Product and concept testing technology are one way parents can continue to connect with their children. Not only do parents have the opportunity to learn more about their children's fashion choices through unique, fun, and interactive experiences their children will always remember, but they also get to work together with their children to provide brands the insight they need to create comfortable, on-trend clothing that future families will love.

As parents, we always want the best for our children, apparel and footwear included. And buying clothing for your little ones is an investment that comes with many factors going into the purchase decision. You want outfits that are cute and fashionable, and you also want the new items to last (whether that's for as long as they fit or for future hand-me-downs). With the added complexity of a child’s clothing preferences (think colors, patterns, or feel of the material) and rapidly growing bodies, brands have their work cut out for them when designing products that both kids and their parents will love. To turn these challenges into opportunities, kids’ clothing and footwear brands are hard at work engaging kids in their product design and development through kids product testing. And to get that critical feedback, they're connecting constantly parents.

For the parents involved - like the thousands of Parent Product Testers on MESH01 - they enjoy knowing they’ve played a direct role in ensuring the relevance and quality of kids’ clothing and footwear for kids and parents everywhere.

For the brands, they count on the pre-market feedback that helps them minimize returns due to product quality and fit, increase sales with on-trend designs and create loyal parent shoppers through positive kids' product experiences.

What Are Parents Really Looking For in Kids Clothing and Footwear?

There are a lot of different factors when it comes to creating children’s clothing and apparel beyond what’s trendy and looks good. These key factors include:

  1. Fit
  2. Comfort
  3. Quality
  4. Performance
  5. And whether or not kids like them!
young boy with adult testing tennis racket

That may already seem like a lot to consider. Then, layer on the trends mentioned earlier and it’s clear why it can be so difficult for brands to know what checks all the right boxes without getting direct feedback from their target audience. In this case, it’s feedback from the kids.

Through pre-market product testing including concept testing, brands are able to make sure their new styles are the right direction while confirming fit, comfort, performance during key activities and more.

In many cases, this tactic of engaging the target parent shopper within the product development process is proving more relevant and reliable than both past sales data and even trend shopping. As opposed to how previous styles did, or what competitors are doing, engaging parents for kids product testing is helping brands understand what parents really want and to ensure their products deliver on those expectations.

How Kids Product Testing Helps Create Great Products

While little Timmy may not be able to submit clear, concise, timely and actionable feedback on how his shirt feels while playing on the playground, his parents certainly can. MESH01 Parent Product Testers for example are making it easy for kids’ clothing and footwear brands to test their products across a wide range of performance attributes like those mentioned above – all before they hit the shelves.

Some of the most common and useful feedback from kids product testing through parents includes:

  • Feedback logs that show how a product is experienced over time (and washes) through the chosen activities
  • Alerting brands of any critical product issues identified during the test
  • Noting discomfort, durability or quality issues experienced during the duration of the test
  • Providing brands with a better understanding and real-life comparison of fit amongst different age groups
  • Providing your honest feedback on whether certain factors such as design, style, and color are a hit or a miss

With all of this information and more, now brands have the insight they need to create comfortable, on-trend clothing kids that they - and their parents - will love.

What Do Parent Product Testers Do?

Brands are finally able to get feedback directly from their target audience… well, kind of. While children under 18 don’t participate directly in product tests on MESH01, parents are invited to participate in testing opportunities for their children. This approach is both respectful and responsible for kids product testing, and also ensure the timeliness and quality of feedback for brands.

As a parent product tester, you’ll typically go beyond your product tester account setup, making key tester recruitment information about your child or children available including age, sizing, clothing preferences, activities and more.

From their, parent product testers are on the look-out for invitations to tests that match their child’s key information. And when selected, they’ll follow the comprehensive, multi-channel feedback process through the length of the product test which is typically around 30 days.

How You Can Become a Parent Product Tester for Kids Product Testing

For over a decade, the world’s most recognizable brands and retailers have trusted MESH01 with their product testing experience. It’s an exciting opportunity when you’re selected to participate in a product test – let alone a kids product test. You now have the opportunity to participate in product testing opportunities that meet not only your interests but your child’s, and see product experiences even more through their eyes.

Many parents join this community through the MESH01 Parent Product Tester Registration page.

When selected to participate in a product test, you will be joining countless other parents and children receiving new products designed to meet kids' and parents' expectations - all while sharing your favorite activities, interests, and expertise! Through surveys, activity logs, performance zones, and image/video uploads and more, parents can give the first-hand feedback that helps brands create exceptional products.

The Future of Children's Products Relies on You!

Being a parent tester means much more than making sure products are just 'good'. Being a parent product tester means you are ensuring that countless other families, parents, and children have access to quality products that meet or exceeds their expectations.  As testers on MESH01, you work to shape the future of products. Dive in!

When it comes to shopping for new footwear and apparel, we have the world at our fingertips. We are constantly exposed to the newest fashion trends. Whether sought out by us or presented to us. And we expect our favorite brands to continuously deliver new, on-trend products. At the same time, consumers have become more and more focused on sustainability, and more selective in their purchases. More and more of us have been seeking products that are tailored to our specific needs and preferences. We look for sustainable materials and processes while keeping up with the latest trends. This dynamic has resulted in brands seeking new solutions for predicting fast-paced trends. This has led to exciting new technologies.

In this article, we will look at how product testing technology and pre-market product testing feedback play an early role in helping brands decide which trends are worth pursuing.

How Brands Select Product Trends to Invest In

Trends are constantly morphing as the retail footwear and apparel industry is in an ongoing state of evolution. The process for predicting consumer trends has drastically changed throughout the years, too.

The Daily Front Row recently put plainly how fashion trends are predicted. This includes the impacts of fashion and runway shows, media, celebrities and influencers, and everyday looks. From a broader point of view and across many categories, the voice of the customer has increased in both accessibility and influence on themselves. In response, brands have been seeking ways to capture this voice of the customer chatter and feedback and distill the data to a point where they can make more informed decisions about which trends to invest in.

Simply put, customers are talking more, and brands are trying to listen, more and more - all through technology.

Increased Technology Impacting Product Trends

Technology has allowed consumer channels to flourish. This has allowed trend predictions to become more accessible to all. For example, take fashion shows, which have always been a staple and inspiration for fashion trends. Through technology and media, these shows are now able to be shared way beyond the runway. This exclusive look into designers’ minds can prompt brands and consumers alike, to be influenced by their vision.

Not limited to high fashion is the rise of celebrity influence and social influencers. The early 2000s introduced the idea of utilizing social sites to break barriers between casual peer-to-peer connections and move towards building connections between users and content. As technology progressed and social sharing became more accessible, interest in social media content increased. As we got additional channels to peek inside the lives of our favorite celebrities (or deep look at the lives of influencers) the impact of these channels grew in scale. Additionally, the rate of new trends big and small increased in speed. One viral social post of a unique product can lead to an entire generation of fans looking to repeat it - for a period of time.

Predicting trends and selecting trends to invest product development in has traditionally been a challenge. However, new ways of listening to consumers through technology are being employed to help brands know what their customers want now and what they might want next.

Retail Technologies and Predicting Product Trends

From PLM to 3D retail technologies, digital solutions continue to be a growing force. This is helping industries from personal products to footwear and apparel and beyond. Simultaneously, customers' personal lives are becoming increasingly intertwined with the digital world. Brands are continuing to embrace the latest technologies. This pushes the limits of manufacturing, marketing, and product experiences. But how do these technologies directly benefit the customer? One integral process that has been advanced through new technology is customer feedback loops. By utilizing product testing platforms that collect pre-market customer feedback, such as MESH01, brands are working directly with the consumer at an accelerated product development pace, allowing brands to infuse their products with their customer’s needs and preferences and deliver on-trend styles faster than ever.

Real-Time Feedback On Trends

A particularly effective technology that helps brands predict trends is concept testing. This pre-market voice of the customer solution helps take the guesswork out of the traditional design process, which can often be based too heavily on past sales and competitor shopping. In concept testing, target customers are giving direct feedback on product designs at the beginning of the product creation process. For this reason, pre-market product testing including concept testing is often used to help select materials, colors, and even entire silhouettes. Designers and developers no longer have to wait and hope that their customers are going to love their new styles. They can launch their products with the confidence that comes with including their customer in design and development.

More and more brands are working with real-life testers within the product development cycle, too.  As a product tester, you allow designers to see how their products fit and perform on a real person. And with an integrated tester community like MESH01, products are even able to be tested by real people in the right conditions, without having to wait for the perfect season. Further, the testers’ use of activity logs, image uploads, surveys, and more means brands are informed of any changes they need to make when creating the final, polished product.

Staying On-Trend Through Product Testing

Consumers and the retail footwear and apparel industry are becoming more intertwined through technology. As a result, aspects such as product trends are affected. Consumers expect instant access to the latest trends as soon as they are seen on catwalks or as soon as an influencer’s post goes viral. For brands, it can be difficult to keep up. With the help of new purpose-built pre-market feedback technologies, brands can have a more predictive approach to meeting their customers’ expectations and staying on trend.

2022 was a big year for MESH01. On top of everything, this year, we also have finally gotten to chance to showcase our amazing tester community with the new Tester Spotlight series on our Instagram and Facebook. The series just launched for the first time this year! 11 awesome testers have shared their stories, and we look forward to recognizing more in 2023.

Check out our Tester Spotlights of 2022!

Tracy Linder

Tracy Linder, MESH01

Meet Tracy!

Tracy has been a tester with us since 2017. Her favorite activities include hiking, camping, and backpacking. However, her favorite activity is definitely running. Whether she is hitting the trails or running in her neighborhood, Tracy is currently inspired by her own personal goal of keeping up with her daily running streak (over 600 days and counting wow!) but also maintaining her goal of running a minimum of 100 miles each month of 2022.

Read more about Tracy here.

Fredrika Paulig

Fredrika Paulig, MESH01

Meet Fredrika!

Fredrika has been a tester with us since 2020. Her hobbies include revolve very much around sports. With running being her favorite activity, at the same time, she's a total gym rat! Whether it's working with her personal trainer, attending fitness and boxing classes, or completing obstacle course races such as Spartan or Savage races - Fredrika is always on the move!

Read more about Fredrike here.

Andre Stone

Andre Stone, MESH01

Meet Andre!

Andre has been a tester with us since 2013! His favorite activities include Calisthenics, running (road, trail), soccer, and trying new things! Andre is a dedicated tester who loves being able to test out new products and help companies explore their concepts. He's the guy who is super excited about the updates when a company launches a new model, and is constantly thinking about how my gear could be better - or raving about it if it's pure awesome! Being able to be part of that process of exploring what works and what might need to be tweaked is something he loves doing.

Read more about Andre here.

Christine Hsieh

Christine Hsieh, MESH01

Meet Christine!

She has been a tester with us since 2014. Christine enjoys weight training, playing golf, and touch rugby. Her biggest accomplishment is having played for the US in a Touch World Cup! (Picture is of Christine representing the USA at the Touch World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.)

Read more about Christine here.

Chad Rietze

Chad Rietze, MESH01

Meet Chad!

Chad has been a tester with us since 2014. His favorite activity is soccer. He played at the College of Idaho before transferring & playing at The University of Utah. In his free time, and depending on the season, he also enjoys snowboarding, trail running, mountain biking, and backpacking. Chad loves participating as a tester as it gives him the motivation to get outside or engage in whatever activity the product is tailored to.

Read more about Chad here.

Janet Thompson

Janet Thompson, MESH01

Meet Janet!

Janet has been a tester with us since 2016. Some of her favorite activities include hiking, mountain biking, trail running, fly fishing, skiing (backcountry touring, alpine, and cross-country), kayaking, kayak/canoe camping, backpacking, photography, and anything fitness related (strength training, training clients, TRX, etc.). She works full- time as in marketing and tech/e-commerce. She is also a personal trainer and nutrition coach, a photographer, and an ambassador.

Read more about Janet here.

Brandon Bennet

Brandon Bennet, MESH01

Meet Brandon!

Brandon has been a tester with us since 2020. He enjoys and grew up playing soccer. He currently refs soccer at all levels, including youth, high school, college, and adult leagues. After years of soccer, just simple running was getting hard on his knees, so he looked into other fitness avenues and gained an appreciation for cycling, swimming, and hiking. Beyond that, he also loves to hunt and explore the woods with his kids as often as possible.

Read more about Brandon here.

Harry McSween

Harry McSween, MESH01

Meet Harry!

Harry has been a tester with us since 2020. He enjoys running and rock climbing. He averages running 4-5 days a week and goes rock climbing as often as he can. His biggest motivations are getting outside and not having to think about anything but just being able to go and do. Also, his kids! Who are now able to accompany Harry on his outside adventures and testing experiences - which makes it that much more fun!

Read more about Harry here.

Chris Miller

Chris Miller, MESH01

Meet Chris!

Chris has been a tester with us since 2016. Chris really enjoys being part of the MESH01 test as it gives him motivation to stay active. Some of Chris's favorite activities include backpacking, trail, and distance running. As well as participating in triathlons and other races.

Read more about Chris here.

Cindy Shoer

Cindy Shoer, MESH01

Meet Cindy!

Cindy enjoys being outdoors and pursuing physical activity. She loves the challenge and the peace as well as new adventures. Even the smallest of things such as new trails and new sports to try.

Read more about Cindy here.

Welcome 2023!

There are a lot of people who are willing to give an online review for a free sample. Our community has proved to be different, you are responsible for helping brands create exceptional products and exceeding the typical 'standard panel'. Thank you to our qualified, reliable product testing community - we cannot wait for what 2023 has in store.

2022 was a big year for MESH01! Not only for our team but also for our dedicated and reliable MESH01 Product Tester Community. Thank you testers for being such a valuable and valued part of our community. Through your diligent concept and product testing you have helped improve thousands of future products that the world will soon experience and enjoy.

While we couldn’t be more excited for 2023, let’s take a look at back some of your product testing highlights from 2022. From helping brands increase their raving product reviews online to helping brands further their sustainability efforts, we weren’t too sure where to start!

Here are some of our favorite product testing moments from this year.

MESH01 Parent Product Tester Community Helps a World-Famous Brand Launch Their First Children’s Apparel Line

Helping brands bring new products to the market has always been our thing. This year we were able to engage our parent testers and MESH01 families to a whole new level. Through your insights and feedback, a world-famous apparel brand was able to successfully launch its first children’s apparel line. This year alone your contributions to this brand's initiative included:

  • Gathering real feedback from 962 MESH01 kids testers
  • Giving detailed feedback on 19 children's apparel tests
  • Giving the MESH01 parent seal of approval for 19 products

As any parent knows, shopping for your child can sometimes be stressful as we always want the best for our kids! Because of our amazing MESH01 parent product testers, our customers can confidently create new children’s apparel lines. This ensures that their products already have met parents’ expectations before going to market.

MESH01 Product Tester Community Help Brands Introduce More Size-Inclusive and Gender Inclusive Apparel

Expanding and creating a more inclusive range of products is an important initiative for our customers. Getting these product details right - from fit to comfort, design, and beyond - is critical. We aren't exaggerating when we say, brands really want to hear from you!

Through our spectacular tester community, brands made sure future customer expectations were going to be met. From critical feedback identifying opportunities for improvement to positive feedback validating performance attributes, MESH01 customers appreciate it all. Thank you testers for ensuring product design, fit, quality, and more! Brands now know their existing customers and potential new ones can finally feel confident in their purchases.

MESH01 Testers Help a Leading Apparel Manufacturer Validate New Opportunities and New Products 

Through new product development and product testing of new apparel samples, many of you helped a leading apparel manufacturer validate a completely new product opportunity and product type. As this brand continues to evolve its product offering beyond so many go-to favorite styles, your preference and testing feedback on fit, comfort and performance allowed the brand to confirm the relevance of the new product concept and inform early product development details, as well as uncover areas for future improvements. 

It's application of your product tester feedback like this that results in fresh new products to love from brands you already know and trust. 

We Could Not Have Done It Without You!

What a year it has been! Throughout 2022, concept and product testing has continued to prove itself to be resilient in its drive toward aiding brands and creating quality products. Our accomplishments this year are possible because of you - our incredible product tester community. You all have helped better the world of future product experiences by providing amazing feedback and insights through product and concept testing. We cannot wait to achieve more together in 2023!

As consumers, we regularly clean out our closets to keep up with the latest trends. But as fresh new styles continuously hit the shelves, what happens to the styles that don't sell? The fashion industry’s overall environmental impact and continued push towards more sustainable practices have become top-of-mind for consumers, brands, and retailers alike.

In efforts to combat the impacts, consumers and companies have been exploring innovative change. More and more consumers are selling their clothing, either directly via platforms like Poshmark and Mercari or through programs like Lululemon’s Like New and The North Face’s Renewed. However, while these channels productively decrease waste, the challenge of unsellable inventory remains.

In this article, you will learn more about what happens to unwanted and unsold clothing and footwear. Additionally, we'll tell you how pre-market product testing is helping brands work toward sustainability through informed product creation processes.

What Happens to Unwanted Clothing?

Unwanted clothing is a sustainability challenge that can be addressed through product testing.

The rise of fast fashion has been contributing to discarded clothing and footwear. According to the BBC, the average American has been estimated to discard over 80 pounds of clothes every year. At the same time, consumers are buying more clothes than ever as they try to keep up with rapidly changing trends. Currently, the average American is estimated to buy an average of 64 items of clothing and 7.5 pairs of shoes per year.

Whether or not a consumer is purchasing 64 items of clothing a year or less, more clothing and footwear continue to enter wardrobes each year. The older items are left to hang in closets or discarded. Sustainable options for unwanted clothing still exist, including the option to donate them to local charities or dropping them off at your local textile recycling bin. Regardless, 85% of our clothes still end up in a landfill or burned.


Donating your clothes is a great way to give your slightly worn clothes a second chance. However, roughly five percent of donated clothes are sent directly to landfills right away. This is mainly due to mildew issues. And if your clothes don’t end up selling at Goodwill or similar centers, they are then often donated to textile recycling centers. These textile recycling facilities are great as they repurpose textiles to be used in new products rather than end up in a landfill. But even if we tried to recycle all of our unwanted clothing, roughly 60 percent of it is not recyclable in the first place.

Why Can't Some Clothes Be Recycled?

Cost-effective and non-renewable materials are often used to produce clothing. Much of this clothing is made from plastics which we know better as polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc. These synthetic fibers in our clothes are commonly made from crude oil and can be difficult to reuse.

According to Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), these fibers can be processed into polyester chips. The plastic pellets can become raw materials for fabrics again and be used in new products. Though, while some materials can be processed into recycled fiber, there is still a surplus of clothing being produced.

The rise of fast fashion has changed the consumer mindset. Consumers expect their favorite brands to continuously deliver new, on-trend products and do so at low prices. With consumers buying more clothes than ever, the retail footwear and apparel industry continues to meet demand. Renee Cho, staff writer for the Columbia Climate School, expands on how this demand has resulted in environmental impact. This includes an estimated contribution of 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Textile production itself is estimated to release 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year. Further, vast amounts of water are also needed to produce the clothes we wear too. The fashion industry’s processes are estimated to be responsible for upwards of 20% of global wastewater.

With the financial and environmental impacts of discarded clothing pressurizing manufacturers, numerous brands and retailers have begun working to ensure validated demand for new products. But what happens when brands and retailers get it wrong and their products don’t sell as expected? As the seasons change and the latest trends die out, the unsold inventory needs to be addressed, as does the systemic challenge.

Making Change

Consumers’ growing awareness of these issues - and growing interest in sustainable practices - is causing them more carefully consider their purchasing options. And the industry is responding as more companies are holding themselves accountable for their natural impact. They are working towards creating more sustainable products and processes. As segments of consumers and brands both move towards a more sustainable marketplace, some companies have started pioneering new solutions. As we mentioned above, Lululemon’s "Like New" and The North Face’s "Renewed" give slightly worn clothing another chance through brand-managed reselling.

In 2017, Patagonia started its "Worn Wear" program. Worn Wear allows consumers to trade in or repair their worn or damaged clothing. Additionally, the program allows consumers to buy clothing that has been traded in or repaired as well. The program was an instant success and continues today with its online service as well as brick-and-mortar locations.

Brands have also begun producing products from more sustainable sources. This helps to reduce their impact by conserving natural resources and decreasing their carbon footprint. As a recent example, Allbirds is already a carbon-neutral business. Additionally, in April 2021, they open-sourced their carbon footprint tool so other companies and consumers could benefit and learn more about their impact.

We're still at the beginning of brands trying to find new ways to restore our planet. But a fundamental way companies are working towards sustainability is by utilizing pre-market product testing feedback. While some operational areas of the clothing and apparel industry have been slow to embrace technology, utilizing pre-market feedback platforms such as MESH01 is an effective first step for becoming both responsive and responsible.

How Pre-Market Product Testing Supports Sustainability Initiatives

Pre-market product feedback can be an early step in the right direction toward multiple sustainability initiatives. From understanding which product ideas to invest into mitigating the risk of costly quality issues, pre-market product testing provides solutions for brands trying to minimize textile waste and prevent discarded overstock. Here’s how.

Concept Testing for Sustainability: To Make or Not to Make

Product testers participating in concept testing are helping brands make sure ideas are worth developing. This helps brands decide if products are worth producing as well. Simply put, concept testing takes away the guessing game by allowing brands to:

  • Identify trends closer to market
  • Understand customer preferences and key drivers of purchases
  • Pass or fail product concepts before further development investments

Early in the product creation process, customer feedback is vital and the feedback obtained through concept testing sets products on paths to success. Through concept testing, brands can be confident in creating a product they know their consumers will love, with the right attributes to drive purchases. This early step also helps reduce the risks of overproducing, too, through confirming trend opportunities close to the market and informing demand planning.

Product Testing for Sustainability: Getting Products Right the First Time

When an idea becomes validated by customers through pre-market concept testing, product testing then helps brands avoid market underperformance driven by quality or fit issues. These issues generally result in high return rates, as well as potentially costly critical failures that can lead to recalls. Shipping goods globally expends enormous amounts of fuel, and recalling products and product returns has potential significant environmental hazards. The increased use of fossil fuels, plastic wrapping, etc. contributes to production and consumption and inevitably, waste.

Product testing has allowed brands to meet customer expectations while becoming more sustainable through product creation. A great recent example is the innovative footwear brand Kizik. They saw a 50% decrease in product returns on a key item by using the MESH01 product testing platform. 

Further, product testing also gives brands the opportunity to explore different, more sustainable materials, too. Through product testing, manufacturers can effectively test how new materials may perform compared to previous ones. This can be a great way to hear back from consumers who have been using their products for years. It can also help inform if a switch to more sustainable materials will still meet customer expectations.

Both consumers and brands are more aware than ever of the collective impacts of production, shipping, and consumption. Fortunately, product testers are eager and available to help brands figure out if they should commit to a concept and commit to an inventory purchase.

Keep Pushing

A push towards sustainability in the footwear and apparel industry is a push towards a better future for our environment and our favorite products. As consumers, our expectations are constantly morphing, and we have a growing desire for fresh new products. Through pre-market product testing, manufacturers and product developers can work with consumers to generate the information they need. They can now ensure that they are producing the right amount of the right products that are proven to perform.

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Welcome! We're glad you're here. Many of your favorite brands are, too.

By registering as a MESH01 tester, you've completed the first step towards shaping the world of products we all enjoy. As a tester, you'll have opportunities to work directly with world-leading brands. Your job will be to ensure that they're going to market with the right products and the best products.

Exciting, we know!

Below, we'll give you an idea of what's expected of you - and what to expect - as a MESH01 tester.

What Makes a Great Tester

There are a lot of factors that go into being a great product tester. We've made your research a bit easier. Here are some of the most important parts of sharing your customer voice during the product development stage:

  • Honesty: Brands value your honesty when testing. Don’t worry, feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t love a product. That’s the exact feedback they might be searching for! Brands know that their current customers, while sometimes vocal in a constructive way, are most likely loyal fans. They also know that sometimes this voice shouldn't be part of the feedback mix. Instead, many brands look to MESH01 testers for honest, constructive feedback to make their products and product experiences even better. So tell them what you really think and how you really feel!
  • Attention to Detail: Product research and testing is a critical phase in the development process. It requires high-quality, detailed, and relevant feedback. This helps brands can make changes to their product that will ensure their success in the market. By providing all the feedback and detail you want to share, in the form of survey responses, product performance zone feedback, and activity logs, you are adding valuable data to a critical stage in the product development process.
  • Reliability: Being mindful of timing and fully completing test requirements on those test timelines plays a huge role. In an effort to bring on-trend products to market, brands work with certain deadlines. These deadlines are often accelerated to bring on-trend products to market as fast as high-quality product development can allow! Working together and meeting deadlines according to a test design and timeline will make the testing experience much more seamless for everybody.
  • Dedication: Another great benefit is testing in your natural environment. Do not hesitate to bring the product fully into your life. We encourage you to test in your kitchen, at the job site, on a hike, or on the playing field. Wherever use of the product is most applicable and appropriate is where it should be tested. This only enables you to give genuine, accurate feedback about how well the product met or didn’t meet your expectations. Ultimately, this provides brands with valuable information they can’t generate in the lab.

The Importance of Your MESH01 Tester Profile

It's no secret that the best path to being selected to test a product on MESH01 is to make your profile stand out! But how can you do that? Here are some of the most impactful updates and additions you can make to your MESH01 tester profile to help brands find you:

  • Smile! Make sure you have a profile picture. A picture is worth a thousand words. Brands love getting a real feel for who they are selecting to participate in their product test.
  • Tell us about yourself, then tell us a little more. Be sure to go beyond your basic profile requirements. Utilize your Profile Surveys to communicate what makes you, you! After all, most brands create products with a very specific idea of their customer in mind. Give them the chance to see that that customer is you!
  • Keep your profile up to date. From your address to your activities and sizing, it's essential to make sure your profile is an accurate and current representation of you.
MESH01 Product Tester providing product test feedback from home

Maintaining these areas of your profile is important. It will help paint a clear and exciting picture of you as a product tester and customer. This is a critical component of the brand/tester fit.

Being Part Of Our Amazing Community

Our brands expect our community to provide exceptional feedback. With this considered, it does not take away from the extraordinary input and participation we receive from them. Nor does not take away from the fantastic experience our testers face while helping brands create excellent products. As a tester, you test products that fit your lifestyle and areas of expertise. Generally, making it easy to incorporate new products into your lives. Most importantly, also give proper feedback on how to improve them!

'What I love about MESH01 is that I get the opportunity to test great products and give meaningful feedback to the companies from whom I purchase all the things that help me in my running journey and beyond.'

– Tracy Linder, MESH01 Tester

At MESH01, we love being an addition to our tester's lives. Each tester helps shape the products they use daily for the better. Additionally, they also bring something valuable and unique to each test. Check out some of your fellow community members to learn more about their experiences at MESH01.

What to Expect as a MESH01 Tester

It's an exciting and special opportunity when you're selected to participate in a product test. If you participate, you'll often be seeing a product before the rest of the world does. Above all, you'll also ensure that countless others receive a quality product that meets or exceeds their expectations. That's why it is essential to understand that becoming a product tester is all about being the right fit at the right time.

You're part of a 50,000+ product tester community that is growing daily. In that, brands search for the best testers for their concepts and prototypes. A brand looking to test a running shoe wouldn't select someone who doesn't run, right? When invited to or chosen for a concept test or product test, it means that your profile fits the target audience criteria for that product. The frequency of this test/tester fit depends on many factors. Those include your sizing, level of participation, location, climate, and more. But don't let the idea of specific tester needs discourage you. You'll likely be a good fit for something, so just be sure to keep your profile up to date!

Our Platform

MESH01 is a flexible product testing platform. It supports various use cases and test designs from product concept testing to final prototype or sample tests. Not only can different brands test differently, but the same brand may have many different types of tests. When a good test/tester fit happens for you, brands will often be very clear about their specific needs before they finalize their tester "roster". This gives you a final opportunity to evaluate the test requirements and make a decision about whether or not the test is right for you.

So, expect from them clarity on the test requirements, and in return for your participation, keeping the tested product (before it even hits the market) is a common "thank you".

We hope this post helps you understand what you can do to be a great tester, and what to expect from your product testing experience!

Happy Testing!

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How Your Feedback Plays a Major Role in Brands' Success

MESH01 product testers, do you wonder about the different impacts you're making through concept testing vs. product testing? Let us explain. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, there are over 30,000 new products introduced every year, and 95% fail. As a MESH01 tester, you work directly with brands to ensure that their products see success when it's time to hit the market. Whether these products are safe bets or the risky idea that might actually pay off, brands know it's critical to look at their products through the lenses of their customers.

How Product Testers Contribute along the Product Creation Timeline

Developing a product comes with a lot of trial and error across multiple points. To simplify, testing typically happens at a couple points within the first 5 major product development stages:

  1. Market research
  2. Ideation
  3. Concept testing
  4. Prototyping
  5. Product testing

At MESH01, we're obsessed with helping brands optimize the steps of concept testing and product testing, all with the help of our amazing community. Your feedback plays different roles in concept testing vs. product testing, and it all starts by talking to the right people.

You're an Important Part of a Product Tester Community

As a MESH01 tester, you're part of a 50,000-person community responsible for seeking out and reporting on the good and bad before products are launched. There is a lot at stake when you are participating in a test, and the brands' expectations are high. That's why we value and support your honesty and reliability as a tester. Don't like the design? The fit is too small? Let them know. That is the exact type of feedback brands are looking for when they introduce their concepts and products to our community. They know the echo-chambers of friends, co-workers and family can result in glowing (albeit usually late) reviews. They also know those feedback loops don't translate into product performance in the market.

Brands know they need the real voice of the customer before launching their products. Your voice.

When selected for a concept or product test, you fit the target audience criteria for that product. Our community of testers can be browsed by hyper-specific attributes like your lifestyle, interests, activities, occupation, and even info products used. This is all provided through you provide through your complete profile and surveys. Whether you are a marathon runner or casual jogger, professional athlete or weekend warrior, brands look to find the most relevant and reliable feedback for their product. And when you're the right fit, they rely on your tester experience to inform their product development decisions.

Concept Testing: Product Testers Help Bring Ideas to Life

Early on, your feedback is vital for product creation and the numerous decision-making processes within. So you may be curious, what do brands benefit from when you participate in a concept test? Great question. This early stage in the product creation process is responsible for identifying product ideas and directions that will set the path for bringing promising product ideas to life. Common reasons brands concept test with you include:

  • Identifying trends close to product development
  • Validating market opportunities
  • Understanding customer preferences and drivers of interest
  • Passing or failing product concepts before further development investment
  • Prioritizing features and attributes
  • Optimizing product positioning including naming, descriptions and pricing

That’s a lot of power! While often faster than a product test -typically a single survey- these concept tests are responsible for identifying, curating and nurturing future product opportunities. And it all starts with you.

Product Testing: Product Testers Help Create Exceptional Product Experiences

Once a product concept gets the seal of approval from the MESH01 tester community, brands begin work on prototypes to be used for real-life, hands-on experience. During the product testing stage, you're asked to meet a set of 'test expectations'. These expectations are designed to cover all of ways in which a brand's product will be used. Following and completing these expectations accurately and on time helps companies test their products in realistic circumstances so they do not miss any critical performance feedback before product launch. No pressure!

You also help determine whether a product needs some adjustments or is ready to hit the market. How?

  • By alerting brands of any critical product failures during testing
  • Logging use, wear and tear over time
  • Noting any discomfort, durability or quality issues via your visual product feedback tools
  • Completing and answering product testing surveys that help brands validate what's working
  • Following any additional test requirements, which might include media uploads and more

As you can see, product testing is an essential part of developing a quality product. It allows brands to create products that set new trends and delight us all as customers.

Your feedback plays different and valuable roles in determining whether a product is ready to hit the market or needs improvement. Next time you are participating in an MESH01 concept test or product test, remember that you are shaping the world of products we all enjoy. After all, at MESH01 we work with so many of the worlds leading brands, and our outstanding community plays a crucial role in that success!

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