We cover all the essential features of a product in our tests, so you can be sure you know the ones that will suit you best and the features that are worth paying extra for – and the ones that aren't.
Finding products to test
We have a dedicated team of researchers who carefully scour the market for what to test next. Their aim is to cover a very high percentage of the market in any one product area, taking popularity, brand reliability, innovation and price into account. We also consider feedback from our members, and make sure that the products we test are the ones they want to see.
Once we’ve selected a product for testing we will buy it anonymously. Sometimes we give it a first look to give you our initial impressions, before sending it to our test labs for full in-depth testing.
Which? test labs
Every product we test and score at Which? goes to our independent test labs to put be through its paces by qualified and experienced experts. This ensures that everything is tested fairly, impartially and consistently, so that we can continually offer the best advice to consumers.
Lab testing is the best way to test products – it ensures we can follow rigorous testing procedures time after time. This is essential when it comes to testing TVs, for example. We usually test about 10 batches of TVs a year, and our approach means we can control our viewing panel for each test and be confident that we can directly compare all the results.
Keeping our tests up to date and relevant
We test to existing British and European Standards in our labs, of course, but we also build in elements that reflect the way people use products and how they value products, which we learn through consumer surveys.
Plus we make sure our test programmes develop and evolve as technology and consumer trends change – for example we’ve added eco spins to our washing machine test programmes. We rely on our research and not just manufacturer hype: for instance, our research shows most people still mainly watch TV in high definition (HD), so we continue to test HD picture quality on 4K TVs.
We also test a wide range of food and drink – from everyday items such as orange juice, olive oil and sausages, to pricier things like Champagne and specialist cheeses. We use an independent tasting panel, consisting of consumer or experts, and get them to 'blind' test everything, so no one knows the brand they're sampling.
Sometimes lab testing isn’t enough – we want to know how well a product is up to the job in real life and whether it will suit a wide range of people. In these cases we run user trials, giving people products to try and asking them for their feedback. This could be anything from taking pushchairs around a standard obstacle course, to asking men to test razors for us. Using large numbers of people in our trials helps us get enough ratings and comments about each product to be sure we’re making robust conclusions from our research.
What we don’t test
While we try to test as many things as possible, there are invariably some products that we do not test. For example, we don’t test paint, radiators or beds as the markets are too diverse and these products are quite a subjective consumer choice (we do, however, test boilers and mattresses). Some product areas are still growing (such as electric bikes and wood-burning stoves) so while we don’t currently test them, we may consider it in the future.
Our symbols and ratings
To find out more about how we rate products and services, click here.