Media & Marketing


Carlos Barge

Concept testing is that stage in product or marketing campaign development where concepts (usually detailed descriptions or storyboards) are evaluated to determine if they have enough potential for further investment and development. With the astounding rates of new product failure in the market, it is safe to assume that many businesses neglect this critical phase.

Concept testing is done both with surveys as well as qualitative research (such as focus groups or in-person interviews). Base your concept test methodology on both who you need to include in the research as well as whether your concept lends itself to being presented graphically or verbally, without rational explanation or discussion.

In either case, the research investment conducted at the concept testing phase is minimal compared to launching a new product that does not meet sales goals or one that needs extensive re-tooling or re-marketing post-launch. Here are some of the many purposes of concept tests:

Audience perception

You might think you have created the best thing since sliced bread, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your customers agree with you! You can position your new product to an audience with a survey, then measure their responses to gauge whether they have a positive or negative reaction to it.

Concept testing is done both with surveys as well as qualitative research.

Determine your audience

You need to select your audience carefully. It’s unlikely that your product or service will be designed for everyone. When testing the concept however you should define your audience only around the critical attributes to usage.

Important considerations

Even if you immediately gauge that your product is set to be a success, there are still additional things to consider when you are product testing. While the respondents may have indicated that they have bought into your brand, you should use the concept testing stage to determine other factors, such as your positioning in the current market, the kind of packaging or branding that would be considered attractive and if people trust your brand, as well as what is arguably the most important factor in the production of any product or service, the best price.

It’s not all about new products

Product testing doesn’t necessarily have to be centered around a new product, although this is probably best practice. If you have already launched and want to make improvements, you can use a concept testing survey to gauge what your audience wants from your product and what improvements can be made to make it more successful.

If you have already established your target audience, they would be the perfect people to ask how you can make changes to drive up engagement. You can use concept testing to investigate how new potential customers will react and who else your product most appeal to, in addition to your primary target market.

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