In today’s competitive marketplace, the success of a product hinges on its ability to resonate with customers, solve their problems, and deliver a memorable experience. Concept testing is the vital initial step in this journey, offering invaluable insights into consumer preferences, market trends, and potential pitfalls. Whether you’re a seasoned product developer or just starting your entrepreneurial journey, understanding the intricacies of concept testing is essential. 

What is Concept Testing?

Concept testing is an early, but crucial, phase in the product development process that involves evaluating and gathering feedback on a new product or service idea before it is fully developed and brought to market. The primary goal of concept testing is to assess the concept’s viability and potential for success, identify any potential issues or shortcomings, and refine the concept based on valuable insights. It can also be a critical tool for eliminating concepts early in the development cycle so that resources are put towards concepts with better potential.

Concept testing typically involves presenting a simplified version or description of the product idea to a target audience, which can include potential customers or industry experts. Feedback is collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups, or online questionnaires. This feedback helps product developers and marketers make informed decisions about whether to proceed with the concept, make necessary modifications, or abandon the idea altogether.

Why Concept Testing is Important

Concept testing is invaluable because it serves as a diagnostic tool for assessing the viability and potential of a product concept. By evaluating product concepts before they reach full-scale development and launch, businesses can make informed decisions and make necessary course corrections. It allows them to gather crucial insights, identify potential challenges, and identify areas of improvement, ultimately increasing the chances of creating a successful and market-relevant offering. 

Additionally, concept testing provides companies with a powerful toolset to streamline their product development and marketing strategies. It enables them to eliminate product concepts that exhibit low potential for success, thus conserving resources and avoiding costly missteps. Moreover, through the feedback gathered during concept testing, businesses can optimize their marketing messaging, ensuring that it resonates with their target audience effectively. Concept testing also aids in identifying the optimal customer segments for a product, allowing for tailored marketing efforts. By comprehending the size of consumer segments that show interest in a concept, companies can make informed decisions about market entry and potential profitability.

In essence, concept testing acts as a compass, guiding companies toward product ideas that are more likely to thrive in a competitive market while minimizing the risks associated with innovation and product development.

The Benefits of Concept Testing

Concept testing has a variety of benefits that can help an organization as it goes through its product development process. They include:

Risk Reduction

Concept testing potential products helps identify any potential issues and shortcomings early in the development process, reducing the risk of investing resources in a concept that may not succeed in the market.

Customer Insights

Concept testing provides valuable insights into customer preferences, needs, and expectations, allowing businesses to tailor their products to better meet these demands.

Market Validation

Concept testing helps determine whether there is a market for the product or service, ensuring that businesses focus their efforts on viable ideas.

Competitive Advantage

Concept testing enables companies to identify unique selling points and differentiators for their product, helping them stand out in a crowded market.

Resource Optimization

Concept testing informs decisions about resource allocation from investment fund to personnel, allowing companies to allocate resources more efficiently and effectively.

Marketing Strategy

The development of marketing strategies and messages can be guided by insights gathered from concept tests to ensure they resonate with specific target audiences.

Innovation and Creativity

Concept testing encourages teams to explore various ideas and concepts, stimulating innovation and creativity within an organization.

Enhanced Customer Experience

Concept testing can help enhance the overall customer experience with the product as problematic areas are identified and modified prior to a full product launch.

Concept Testing Methods

There are a several methods that can be utilized for a concept test. The method that is used should be based on the study objectives and the complexity of the company’s product development process.

Monadic Testing

Monadic testing is a concept testing method that involves presenting a single concept or product idea to a group of respondents for evaluation. Each respondent assesses the concept independently, providing feedback and insights based solely on their experience with that particular concept. This method is particularly useful for obtaining detailed and unbiased feedback on a single idea.

Monadic testing allows for a thorough exploration of a concept’s strengths and weaknesses. It helps identify aspects of the concept that resonate with customers, as well as areas that may need improvement. This method also provides a clear understanding of how the concept performs in isolation, making it easier to assess its potential and gather actionable insights for refinement.

Sequential Monadic Testing

Sequential monadic testing is an iterative approach to concept testing. With this method, multiple concepts are presented to different groups of respondents sequentially, with each group evaluating a single concept. This allows for a direct comparison of how various concepts perform against one another, making it easier to identify the most promising concept among several options.

Sequential monadic testing is valuable when a business is considering multiple concept variations and needs to prioritize them based on customer feedback. It provides a structured way to assess concepts one by one and make informed decisions about which concept to develop further or refine.

Comparison Testing

Comparison testing, also known as comparative concept testing, involves presenting two or more concept variations to respondents simultaneously. This method is highly effective for understanding how different concepts perform relative to each other and which one is preferred by the target audience.

Comparison testing allows for direct comparisons of features, benefits, and appeal between concepts. Respondents are asked to provide feedback on their preferences, making it easier to determine which concept aligns best with customer expectations and market trends. This method helps businesses make data-driven decisions about which concept to move forward with, often resulting in a more competitive and customer-centric product or service.

Protomonadic Testing

Protomonadic testing aims to strike a balance between the depth of monadic testing and the efficiency of sequential monadic testing. In this approach, a subset of concepts, typically a few promising ones, is presented individually to separate groups of respondents. This initial stage helps identify concepts with the most potential while saving resources compared to testing all concepts individually.

Protomonadic testing also serves as a valuable screening process, allowing businesses to prioritize concepts before conducting more extensive and resource-intensive testing. Concepts that show promise in this initial phase can be further developed or refined, while those that do not meet the desired criteria can be deprioritized, saving time and effort.

When a company is dealing with a large number of concept variations or wants to balance in-depth evaluation and resource efficiency, this method is particularly useful. It acts as a strategic filter, helping organizations focus their efforts on concepts that are more likely to succeed in the market.

EMI’s Approach to Concept Testing

At EMI Research Solutions, we will pinpoint the specific segments of the population your product or service will appeal to. We are able to do this by fielding product concept tests to a custom audience strategically blended from our global panel network to gather information that assists with several areas of your product’s journey, including:

  • Development stage: Concept testing during the development stage of your product journey can be key to a successful product launch. Concept testing can help you refine the features of your product and allow you to focus on what really matters to your consumers.
  • Promotional campaign: Concept testing isn’t just for the development stage. You can use concept testing to gauge consumers’ reactions to your promotional campaign. You can have the best product in the world, but if you have a promotional campaign that turns off potential buyers, your product will fall flat.
  • Distribution logistics: An underutilized area where concept testing can assist is around the distribution and logistics of a product. Concept testing this area can help you understand where consumers would be interested in receiving or purchasing your product, how long they may be willing to wait, and the type of distribution methods you use.
  • Pricing of the product: Concept testing can also help you determine the best price point for your product or service. Testing can help you know if the ideal price you have in mind is too high or too low. Concept testing can also be a great way to verify your ideal price point. You’ll understand if and how many consumers will buy at the specific price points. This can allow you to craft your marketing messaging as a mass product or a luxury product depending on the price point.
  • Product Positioning and Messaging: Not only will product testing help you to refine your product or service so that it will be as effective and desirable as possible, but product testing will also help you with product positioning and messaging. We can provide you with the data necessary to determine the effectiveness of product positioning by seeing how well your product or service sticks in the minds of potential consumers compared to other similar products and services available on the market. It is important to make sure that your messaging is optimized so you can maximize revenue and minimize risk as soon as your product is introduced to the market.

With our access to a global network of consumers, EMI can assist you with concept testing multiple products, multiple versions of a single product, or even test how consumers internationally feel about your product. We also ensure consistency in your research so that you can feel confident when comparing test-to-test. We will put together a long-term plan with you and your team to ensure long-term sustainability.

EMI’s Consumer Panel Network

Our global network of consumer sample partners gives you access to one of the highest-quality pools of consumer respondents of varying demographic, socio-economic, geographical, behavioral, and psychographic characteristics that give us the ability to create custom strategic sample blends that best fit the target of your study, and provide you with high-quality, deep insights.

Every sample partner in our network has passed our rigorous Partner Assessment Process so we can best understand the recruiting methods, validation process, and other data quality measures they have in place, as well as the ins-and-outs of their panel. Our strict vetting process ensures we only allow the best sample providers into our network, and that we maintain a high level of data quality for our clients.

EMI’s Approach to Sampling

EMI is a leader in online sample and strategic sample blending. Over the last 20 years, we have developed a knowledge of the sample industry by not only working with panel partners throughout the industry but also conducting research-on-research into the online sample industry for more than a decade to understand the differences between consumer panels, and how they change over time. When this knowledge is combined with our unique strategic sample blending methodology, we are unrivalled in the industry.

Strategic sample blending takes traditional blending to the next level and is the best sample design to ensure confident business decisions. It is blending three or more sample providers, but the selection and blending of the selected providers is done in an intentional and controlled manner. Providers are selected to complement one another, while reducing the overall sample bias and any potential behavioral or attitudinal impacts a panel can have. This method ensures that sample blending isn’t done simply for blending’s sake. Utilizing our strategic methodology, we build customized blends that best meet your needs while ensuring the best results possible.

Additionally, by strategically selecting providers and managing their allocation, you increase overall feasibility while avoiding “top-up” situations, and panel bias, both of which can skew your data.