Why Surveys are Crucial to Concept Testing

Philip Cleave
February 7, 2020

Consider any product or goods you own or buy regularly and it’s likely that it will have undergone extensive rounds of testing before you purchased it. From the review of its initial concept and prototype design, to the testing of its name, branding, packaging and ideas for advertising, you can bet its been through some rigorous testing to make sure everything resonated with you as the customer.

Any aspect of a product’s development can influence whether it’s a success or failure, subsequently testing at every stage in this lifecycle is critical. This process typically continues beyond launch, as companies continue with testing in order to introduce newer and improved versions to the market further down the line. However, none of this would be possible without feedback, which is where the value of using online surveys for product testing comes into its own.

What is concept testing and why is surveying your target audience crucial to this?

Concept testing is the process of testing ideas with your target consumers during your product’s development lifecycle. It works on the assumption that by collecting consumer feedback and making any necessary changes or improvements based on this, your product is more likely to be well received when it’s finally launched to market.

By allowing you to swiftly target, engage, collect, and evaluate on what your audience thinks at any stage of the product development cycle, surveys are on the best ways of achieving this.

There are many reasons why feedback from concept testing is so valuable and we explore some of the most important ones below.

4 reasons concept testing feedback is so helpful

1) Helps eliminate bad ideas:

Given the findings of a recent Gartner study, which found that bad choices by management – in areas including pricing adjustments, product/service improvement and marketing campaigns – can cost organizations more than 3% of their profits, you will want to prevent the risk of poor ideas reaching the wider market. Thanks to the opportunity it provides to review your ideas first, concept testing makes it easier to identify and avoid bad ideas and the poor decision-making resulting from them, ultimately saving you time, financial losses and protecting your customer relationships.

2) Pinpoint the best way forward:

Concept testing isn’t just about avoiding poor decisions, but about making better ones.

From product concepts, names and messaging, to new branding or packaging. Whether you’re trying to identify the best option among a raft of choices or improve some previously under performing concepts. Either way, the feedback you obtain through concept testing can provide you with greater clarity about your next best steps forward.

3) Turn good concepts into great ones:

While concept testing can be useful in highlighting issues you need to fix, which might otherwise go unnoticed, it can also offer answers to more detailed aspects that you’re testing, which you can then tweak to further improve your concept. For example, let’s say you had a final concept for an advert in mind, but wanted to identify what color schemes and font styles worked best. Through concept testing you could run multiple versions of the same advert past your target audience to see, which color scheme and font styles resonated with them the most.

4) Strengthen your argument for running with a specific concept:

When working within teams on different concepts, it can be challenging to convince other colleagues to run with one of your ideas, even if you have a strong gut feel that it will be a success. The great thing about concept testing, is that it can allow you to review your ideas with a wider audience, which can help validate whether your gut feel was right or not.

Why the right feedback process is vital to concept testing

To obtain the most value from concept testing throughout your product’s development cycle, it’s prudent to be clear about your feedback collection process.

To help you with this, we have outlined a few best practice tips below:

Start broad then refine your audience:

When you’re launching a new product or service, you may have a hunch about who you believe to be your ideal audience, but you can’t be certain until you begin collecting and analyzing your feedback. Typically, the process can reveal a few surprises in terms of your product’s appeal and what aspects different groups like, dislike or want to see improved, which can influence how you move forward and the audiences you eventually focus on. It’s therefore better to start with a broader, rather than a niche audience to begin with, as this will allow you to capture this essential feedback first. You could then refine your concept with a narrower audience in mind, who you believe to be most likely to buy your product.

Consider using a consumer panel service:

Compared with many of the more traditional market research methods based around focus groups, buying your feedback responses from a live consumer audience is a lot more cost-effective.

With the ability to customize your audience based on a specific sample size and target criteria, consumer panels can quickly deliver the answers you need, saving you time and money, as you only pay for what you need.

For more information about this service, how it works, why not take a look at our consumer panel service.

Keep on testing:

While concept testing throughout your product’s development cycle, will help to maximize its appeal when you’re ready to launch, concept testing is an invaluable practice that shouldn’t stop after you have introduced your product to a market. consumer preferences and tastes are always evolving. So, by continually surveying them for their feedback, you will be better able to keep in tune with their needs, which will help to ensure that you’re always delivering the new and improved products they want to buy.


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