Concept Test Marketing: Paving the Way for Product Innovation


January 18, 2024

Believe it or not, it’s only customers who decide whether your idea is going to succeed or fail. There is a way to carefully check and understand ideas before they make their way to the broader market – it’s concept test marketing. This includes evaluation of product concept testing, advertising campaigns, or even the messaging and claims associated with a brand.

For example, before investing in manufacturing and marketing, an IT company that is planning to launch a new smartphone would do concept testing presenting the product concept, key features, and design to a target audience. The feedback they get from potential users helps identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

Concept testing in marketing has evolved significantly over the years, transitioning from relatively basic methods to more sophisticated and nuanced approaches. Early concept testing often relied on surveys and questionnaires, typically conducted through mail or phone interviews.

In recent years, there has been a shift toward advanced analytics and machine learning in concept testing. These technologies allow for more precise data analysis, segmentation, and predictive modeling which give us an idea of what consumers are really looking for.

Through an exploration of key concepts and practical strategies, this article serves as a guide to aid a smooth transition—from creating ideas to effectively testing and marketing them. This will equip you with the knowledge of what is concept test in marketing and the tools necessary to go through each phase of this process so you can only bring successful products to fruition.

A guide through product development

In concept test marketing, kicking off with ideation is essential because it sets the tone for the entire process. Ideation forms the foundation, laying the groundwork for developing and assessing marketing concepts. This means that you must have a solid and well-thought-out starting point.

In the ideation phase, you explore diverse avenues, experiment with unique features, and consider how your product could redefine markets. The goal is not to limit yourself but to push boundaries and think beyond the conventional. It’s a time of exploration, creativity, and the thrill of forming groundbreaking ideas.

However, as exciting as this phase is, concepts still need validation and refinement. This is where market research cannot be skipped. Sure, you have your innovative ideas but is it aligned with the practical realities of the market? Product concept testing helps you identify what needs to be modified in your product so you can refine and enhance it before fully committing to production and test marketing—where you’re already assessing how your product performs in a specific area.

Concept testing will also first help you understand how people see and interact with your ideas. You also get to uncover flaws, address concerns, and optimize features. This is the difference between concept testing vs test marketing. On top of that, you would not want to invest a lot of resources in manufacturing a product that may not meet consumer expectations.

When you already have all your ideas, you’re now equipped to transition from the drawing board to implementation. The iterative nature of the process, such as addressing flaws and enhancing strengths, allows you to formulate the appropriate strategy. This is where your creative visions begin to take shape in tangible products or campaigns that resonate with your target audience.

Executing concept test marketing strategies

In the implementation phase, you are moving the “what ifs” to “let’s do this.” It’s all about putting those plans and your research method into action and navigating a clear path forward. It’s time to find the best route and make things happen for your brand. But here’s the real talk: building something great isn’t always a smooth journey. Mistakes are part of the package and it’s important to stay adaptable.

In Propelrr, there is an establishment of a carefully composed experimentation workflow that serves as a blueprint for foolproof strategies. Incorporating these approaches not only boosts the efficiency of your concept testing methods but also instills a valuable lesson: the recognition that adaptability and iteration are pivotal components throughout the entire journey. Here are just some of the strategies that Propelrr sticks to.

  1. Clearly define objectives.

    Begin with a checklist to clearly outline the objectives of the concept test. What insights are you seeking? Are you focused on product acceptance, messaging effectiveness, or target audience preferences? These are just some sample questions that you can check in with yourself before moving forward.

  2. Identify your target audience.

    Look into audience profiling. Propelrr understands that knowing the audience inside out is critical. The checklist prompts questions about demographics, preferences, and behaviors, guaranteeing that the concept test aligns perfectly with the intended audience. It helps you create things that people will love because you know exactly what they’re into.

  3. Use diverse testing methods.

    It also expands on testing methods. Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches is a must. Propelrr ensures that the checklist includes options for surveys, focus groups, interviews, and quantitative data from A/B testing or online surveys. It’s important to have a well-rounded strategy. It’s not just doing one thing to figure out what works—it’s doing a bunch of different things to know what people like.

  4. Test early and often.

    The checklist keeps the momentum going. Testing early helps us see if they’re turning out the way we want and fix anything that needs fixing before it’s too late. Propelrr prompts continuous testing throughout the development process to foster a culture of regular refinement and improvement.

  5. Consider multichannel testing.

    There are a lot of concept testing examples to explore. So it’s important to also remember that what works on one platform may not on the other. For example, what’s effective on social media might not have the same kick on TV or in a magazine. Always understand the nuances of each channel to tailor the concept test approach accordingly.

  6. Evaluate emotional response.

    Emotions matter. People remember experiences tied to emotions. Propelrr ensures emotional evaluation as part of the concept test, assessing how products make the audience feel.

  7. Iterate based on feedback.

    Adaptability is key here. Iterating based on feedback is not just sticking with your first design but also cultivating concept testing UX. It’s going back to your drawing board, making changes, and improving your product with each round of advice. Feedback is your guide towards refinement and enhancement before the full launch.

  8. Measure purchase intent.

    Propelrr always continues to measure audience interest. How sure are you that your product is going to sell? It’s important to figure out if your target customers are ready to grab that product right away or if they’re more on the “I’ll get to it later” side. There shouldn’t just be steps to evaluate interest but also the potential conversion rate.

  9. Competitor analysis.

    When you’re testing an idea or a product, you want to know what’s already out there. Maybe your competition has certain unique features that your product doesn’t have, so what can you do to make your product unique? That’s your chance to stand out.

  10. Track metrics relevant to your goals.

    Propelrr emphasizes the importance of KPIs. Define metrics that matter. So, whether it’s brand awareness, engagement, or conversion rates, tracking metrics means paying attention to the details that matter. Are people loving your content? Is your audience engagement as good as you hoped? Keep tabs on what matters most to make sure your product is successful.

When you combine these strategies, you’re essentially equipping yourself with a practical guide. It’s not just a bunch of rules, it’s a set of tools that make your journey smoother and more of a learning experience, and increase the chances of reaching your goals successfully.

Bridging the gap: Enhancing execution in product innovation

Since you’re about to release something new, the goal is to get people to be excited about it before it even comes out. To do that, you need to make sure the product is not just good but even better than what people expect. Think of it like adding extra cool features and making sure everything works perfectly.

When you’re trying out different variants of products, everyone always has their favorite features. Applying concept test marketing findings is looking into people’s most-loved features and making them even better. It’s about taking what people enjoy and fine-tuning it so that when your product hits the shelves, everyone is reaching for it because they’re just that good.

After conducting tests to understand customer preferences and perceptions, applying findings with precision means meticulously incorporating the identified strengths and addressing any weaknesses. It is a methodical process of refining and optimizing the product or idea based on the specific feedback and data obtained during the concept testing phase.

HealthTech Solutions, for example, stands out as the most authentic example of successful ideation to implementation growth. They recognized the challenges posed by traditional paper-based medical records, including inefficiencies, errors, and difficulty in information sharing. The concept was to develop a comprehensive Electronic Health Record (EHR) system that could centralize patient data, streamline workflows, and enhance communication among healthcare professionals.

Extensive consultations were conducted with healthcare providers, IT specialists, and regulatory experts to understand the nuances of the healthcare industry. The EHR concept evolved to include features such as real-time patient data updates, interoperability with different medical systems, and robust security measures to ensure patient privacy.

A prototype EHR system was deployed in a controlled environment within a pilot hospital. Healthcare professionals were invited to use the system in their daily routines and provide feedback on its usability, efficiency, and integration into existing workflows. Concept testing revealed insights into user acceptance, system reliability, and areas needing refinement.

User interfaces were improved for intuitive navigation, interoperability was enhanced to secure compatibility with various medical devices, and additional security measures were implemented. This iterative process was aimed to align the EHR system with the practical needs of healthcare providers.

The whole testing and tweaking was a success for HealthTech Solutions’ EHR system. It made sure the system wasn’t just some fancy tech but worked well for doctors and patients. So, in the end, it improved how healthcare is delivered and how patients fare.

Innovation involves thinking beyond the ordinary, exploring unconventional ideas, and introducing elements that differentiate your product from competitors. The goal is to create the final offering with precision to align with the preferences and expectations of the target market. Being creative is awesome, but it’s even better when you let other people throw in their ideas too.

Key takeaways

The ideation phase is your foundation. Push boundaries, experiment with unique features, and explore how your product could redefine markets. But remember, the excitement of ideation needs validation through concept test marketing. Start strong, think beyond the conventional, and ensure your creative visions align with practical market expectations. Here are three actionable takeaways from the article:

  • Apply concept test marketing findings. The real magic happens in refining and optimizing your product based on concept test marketing findings. It’s about identifying strengths and weaknesses and then applying these insights to create a product that exceeds customer expectations.
  • Learn from experts. Propelrr’s experimentation workflow offers actionable strategies for successful concept testing. Adaptability is key. Having a guide can help you on your product development journey.
  • Understand your audience inside out. When you tailor your concept test to align perfectly with what they love, you’re not just creating products – you’re crafting unforgettable experiences.

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