7 min read

Concept Testing: craft solutions that make noise

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Ensure your solution will make noise with Concept Testing.

According to Harvard Business School, 95% of all product launches fail. As we see, it can be challenging to decide which product and ideas to invest in and when to give up the ghost. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that every aspect of a vision is as close as feasibly possible to being perfect before launch; this is where concept testing comes in.

Concept testing allows the refinement of a product or concept by getting feedback directly from the target market. It offers crucial insights into how the customers will respond, helping to avoid costly errors while also better understanding the company’s market.

Essentially the idea behind concept testing is to create an enhanced customer experience. And research has shown us that It’s beneficial for the company to test out their ideas on a sample of people who can ideally represent the target market’s approach and response.

Read on to see the what, how, and why of concept testing before we share a few of the process’s benefits and best methods practices. Our goal? To get a firm grip on the best way to test new ideas before they hit the market.

What is Concept Testing?

Let’s start with a good old fashioned definition:

Concept Testing is the process of getting an idea evaluated by the target audience before it becomes available to the public.

The goal is to assess attitudes and intentions toward the development, evaluating initial reactions; we are talking about the positives, the flaws, and the general market acceptance.

Concept testing evaluates an idea for a product, service, or project. The evaluation system uses a variety of surveys to ask customers about the company’s ideas and whether or not they like them.

Businesses use concept testing to determine how their target audience will react to new features and then, when required, adjust the projects based on customer feedback.

It is an approach that puts developed ideas before carefully selected market participants to see how participants view their offerings. Through the correct implementation of concept testing, a company can understand the impact a product or idea is likely to have. From there, companies can decide whether or not it is worth going ahead with the plan.

And when we talk about that product or idea, it can be anything! It could be a new logo, an upcoming campaign, or any sort of offering, where the success of which depends on the consumer.

The testing occurs typically during the development stage to test the success of a new product idea before it is marketed, providing directional guidance necessary to identify and communicate key product and service benefits and uses.

But how is this testing done, and what is the best method to follow?

The How: Concept testing surveys

Organizations and businesses use surveys to carry out concept testing, and in general, it’s a simple proposition for companies of all sizes to utilize.

The test surveys provide businesses with valuable feedback that explains what participants like and dislike about a concept; with this in mind, the following couple of principles should be considered during the creation of a concept testing survey:

1. Having a goal

Finding it difficult to come up with questions? Often it helps to establish an overall survey goal. What’s the purpose of the test and the specific details desired from the respondents?
Having a clear goal helps create meaningful questions that provide unique insights into the customers’ perspectives.

2. Creating structure

Questions related to each other should be grouped on the survey, creating a smoother flow and easier to answer.

Several testing survey formats are available to implement; each helps minimize risk and maximize revenue when introducing something new to the market. Concept testing includes multi-purpose testing methodologies that can accurately test each aspect of a concept in detail to arrive upon precise conclusions that help decide its feasibility.

It’s a tough job to manage the launch of new products and services, and under this pressure, it is crucial to make sure products connect with the customer before going to market.

The Why: perform concept tests

Concept testing is a process that almost any business can perform when looking to get their hands on gleams of wisdom from their clientele; below are some of the feedback they might be looking for:

• Does this product stand out against my competitors?

• Does it capture the attention?

• Is the brand well represented?

• Would the customer buy it?

The answers to these questions can make choosing which concept to go with easier while also helping hone the final product.

Benefits of Concept Testing

While it may seem like an idea is genius, the only actual opinions that matter are the customers’ views, right? However, it will not work in mass production if they don’t like the cut of your jib during testing.

Companies can avoid launching ineffective and unsuccessful campaigns by testing the idea beforehand and then reap the rewards; let’s start working our way through some of those rewards of the testing method, starting with:

1. Offering Flexibility

Since most tests use surveys to obtain customer feedback, customers can be asked about any aspect of an idea, including price, style, and tone. Essentially companies can validate every detail of an idea before launching the product.

Concept testing guarantees that researchers, managers, and leaders must make the right choices. Mistakes and do-overs are costly, so it’s vital to utilize research and audience insights to make the right decisions.

2. Gathering support

Through concept testing, support for an idea can be mustered from an early stage. If a product or service idea requires a lot of input from senior leaders or colleagues, providing them with a ‘first glance at the positive evidence can dramatically speed up the process. By providing evidence of the potential of the work they’ll be involved in, a team becomes more confident, and they are more willing to support the project and go that extra mile.

3. Mitigating poor ideas

Companies of all shapes and sizes are vulnerable to making mistakes if they don’t test their ideas first. Sadly, the consequences of pursuing a floored idea are often significant. Bad ideas can lead a business to acquire a negative reputation, which can heavily influence an organization’s ability to grow or even remain stable.

Concept testing prevents a company from putting its resources in the wrong place. An idea may appear as a big hit, but its real value is only determined when put in front of the customer.

4. Optimizing resource investment

This particular benefit speaks to us all on a more tangible level. Companies risk losing their limited resources by investing in an untested idea that may or may not work.

By correctly selecting the best possible research participants, organizations can reduce risk by making the necessary changes that make the concept market-ready.

5. Feeding back input

Finally, concept testing is an efficient way of feeding back to decision-makers. Through the collecting of data, substantiate decisions based on specific market predictions.

It’s an open learning process that goes both ways – with a continued engagement with the same target audience, but what are the options of methods available, and which is the best method to suit my company’s needs?

The Bonus: Concept Testing Methods

Over the years, researchers have designed and applied many different concept testing methods. Sadly, there is not enough space here to detail all the varying concept testing methods in depth; in fact, we probably should provide you with a whole separate blog on this topic. But for now, let us quickly give you a brief glimpse into some of the options.

Here are the four primary methods of concept testing:

• Comparison testing
• Monadic testing
• Sequential monadic testing
• Protomonadic testing

The methods are categorized based on how the concepts are displayed, and each of them is suitable for different kinds of research. Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail, providing the pros and cons of each:

Comparison: In comparison testing, two or more concepts are presented, and the respondents then compare the concepts using a rating or ranking system.

Comparison tests deliver clear and easily understandable results, where It’s easy to determine which concept is the better option.
However, one full-back is the results lack context; there is no way to tell why the respondents choose one concept over other

It is essential to understand these details before successfully launching a product.

Monadic: A monadic test survey’s target audience is broken down into multiple groups, and each group gets shown only one concept. Thus, this model analyzes a single aspect in-depth and is usually short and highly targeted.

The test surveys are short and allow researchers to ask multiple follow-up questions, providing more context around why a specific concept is better than the others.
A drawback is that, since the target audience is split into multiple groups, the sample size required to conduct a monadic test is extensive. The increase in sample size considerably increases the cost of research.

Sequential monadic: Sequential monadic tests also split the target audience into multiple groups, but instead of showing just a single concept, each group is presented with all the ideas.

The respondents are then asked the same set of follow-up questions for each concept to get further insights, and the order of the concepts is randomized to avoid bias.

Sequential monadic tests are more cost-effective and easy to field, as the target audience size required to perform a sequential monadic test is relatively small; thus, multiple concepts can be tested in a single round.
However, the questionnaire’s length is relatively long, which can affect the completion rate and might introduce nonresponse bias. Sequential monadic tests can also be impacted by interaction bias or order bias.

Protomonadic: This method incorporates a sequential monadic test followed by a comparison test.

Respondents first evaluate multiple concepts and are then asked to choose the idea they prefer.

Creating a survey and effectively using a block randomizer offers the best results.

This design helps validate the results from the sequential monadic test, and researchers can then verify if the concept selected in the comparison test is compatible with the insights collected.

Takeaways: Learn more about Concept Testing

Whether you’re in the early stages of vetting a new product idea or are deep into a product development cycle, you should be testing your concept.

As we’ve seen, concept testing is more than just “getting feedback,” and it involves considering the methodology, components, and survey flow for maximum impact.

It can be, at times, tricky to pull off successfully, and lots of companies are looking for support on how best to run the process. But, when concept testing is done right, it saves time, money, and energy. This essential tool provides the insights needed to move forward with confidence.

You can also widen your competitive advantage by improving your ability to write surveys. Creating your own test may be an opportunity to get a leg-up on the competition. But it’s crucial to do concept testing properly to ensure new products have the best chance of success when they hit the market.

MJV can assist you with this, and if you like us to lend you a helping hand, reach out to us for a free consultary. Remeber, you don’t have to go it alone.