Concept Testing: Paving the Way to Successful Product Introductions

Concept Testing: Paving the Way to Successful Product Introductions 

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If Coors had done product testing before entering the bottled water market in 1990, they probably would have stayed away. Even large companies make mistakes when developing products. You can avoid that possibility by using best practices to do concept testing the right way.

Why Concept Testing Is Important

 Concept testing is a step that every business needs to incorporate into its product or marketing campaign development process. It involves going out to the market to gather information on whether customers will accept or love a new concept. You can see why testing is important by looking at epic product fails like Coors’ bottled water.

Coors decided to introduce a Coors bottled water brand. What they didn’t realize was that prominently displaying the Coors logo and making the packaging reminiscent of Coors beer would scare customers. Their target demographic started to wonder if they should be careful about drinking the water and driving. In addition, non-drinkers didn’t want a water made by a beer company. Coors eventually removed the water from the market.

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A situation like the one Coors found themselves in illustrates the urgent need for iterative testing right up to the moment of launch. Consumer sentiment can change overnight. Brands that rely on slow and time-consuming market research run the risk of market failure. Using an approach that provides on-demand consumer insight can avoid those types of situations.

According to McKinsey, over 50 percent of new product launches don’t meet business goals. But, when new product launches work well, responding to insights from the market plays a crucial role.

Benefits of Concept Testing 

One of the biggest benefits of concept testing is that it helps avoid failures that can have detrimental consequences. On a positive note, testing can help you ensure the success of your projects. For example, concept testing can uncover profound insights such as:

  • Whether you should continue to develop your dynamite idea.

  • Whether you have an idea that will be a game changer in the market, or only popular with a niche following.

  • The value of your concept’s features and benefits

  • If there is anything that will block you from fully developing the concept.

  • If there are benefits you didn’t originally anticipate.

  • How you can optimize your marketing messages and identify the best channels to use.

When you arm yourself with the information concept testing provides, you’re in a much better position to create products that meet your customers’ needs. For all we know, Coors would be a successful bottled water vendor today if they’d just made a few adjustments in their plans.

Best Practices for Concept Testing 

Once you’ve decided that concept testing is something that will help you understand your customers, discover new markets, reduce time to market, and generally make your work more effective, you need a plan. Here are some steps that will help you succeed.

1. Use the latest tools to do your testing.

Traditionally, businesses relied on sluggish market research techniques and costly in-person focus groups. Neither of these practices delivered timely or reliable results. In many cases, by the time the results came in, the whole game had changed.

Today’s consumers expect a lot of the products they buy. Incorporating the voice of your consumer into every decision you make is not a nice-to-have, it’s mission critical. You need to take an idea from the boardroom to a product on the shelf quickly and accurately enough to meet customer demand.

Rapid concept testing is crucial to support the speed of product development that all brands need to survive and remain competitive. Technology tools are now available to let you access consumer sentiment on demand, whenever you need instant feedback.

2. Start early.

Concept testing is something that needs to happen in the early stages of decision-making. There’s no advantage to waiting until you’ve devoted so many resources to developing an idea that you don’t feel like you can turn back.

3. Agree on the concept’s value proposition.

If you’re planning to get feedback about a concept, make sure that you’ve defined it well. Starting the process with a nebulous definition of what you’re testing isn’t going to produce the results you want. Make sure that you are testing a value proposition that aligns exactly with your concept.

4. Define customer segments.

If you’re testing a concept that applies to all of your customers, you’re probably not doing it right. Define segments based on what those particular customers have in common.

Think about what the customers are trying to accomplish, and what outcome they’re looking for. Add to that a definition of the things that prevent them from reaching their goals. For example, identify the pain the customer experiences.

You will undoubtedly find differences between the segments in terms of what you want to learn from them and the questions you need to ask.

5. Define a specific goal.

When you structure your test, make sure you have a specific goal in mind. One benefit of doing that is to ensure that you get the specific feedback you need. The other benefit is you’ll almost be writing the questions for your test at the same time.

Here’s a bad goal: Get feedback on package design. Here’s a good goal: Determine if the package design indicates an upscale product.

6. Test, test, and retest.

Concept testing isn’t a once-and-done undertaking. Depending on your approach, you may need to present the same concept differently to different audiences. And, even once you get an answer, you’ll learn much more if you do follow-up tests to clarify answers you’ve received.

For example, let’s say that in one test you identified 500 out of 1,000 consumers who showed interest in your concept. You may want to go back to the interested consumers to ask more questions about the exact pain point they were trying to alleviate. You may also go back to the uninterested group to get more insight as to why they had no interest, and to identify how the value proposition would need to change to make them interested.

It’s often true that the answer you receive from one test will simply give you more ideas about other tests that would provide the insight you need. 

Final Thoughts

There’s no argument over the effectiveness of concept testing. Today, businesses are sometimes less likely to do traditional market research for concept testing because of the cost and the length of time it takes. Those businesses are learning the hard way that they need to find approaches to make concept testing more agile and cost-effective.

If you want to create products people want, real-time insights teams need, and ideas consumers love, the experts at Suzy™ have the on-demand concept testing technology you need. We’re ready to help you meet your goals. Feel free to contact us today for more information. 

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