When considering product development, many people believe the testing part comes in during later stages of the project, but that is a misconception. Concept testing is a key part of product development, and those who overlook this step may find that in doing so, the project gets delayed and the costs go up. Learn why concept testing is a crucial part of product development.
What is concept testing?
Concept testing, sometimes referred to as “idea screening” or “idea testing” is a research tool used to assess the market viability of a new product idea prior to incurring the development expense of actually fabricating a product. It’s critical to new product success.
“Concept testing is done after idea screening.” This is completely different from test marketing. Knowing where the marketing messages will work can be one of the biggest part of testing the concept. Does the consumer understand, need, or want the product or service? Why is this product being created? Does it solve a problem that consumers have? Due diligence here can go a long way in shaping the final product.
Getting internal buy-in
If a new product idea does not have internal buy-in from those stakeholders responsible for designing, manufacturing, supporting and selling the product, the product will fail. Concept testing can assist with that internal buy-in by getting internal agreement on important features, establishing a price point, creating a product focus (such as a target audience or niche), and ensuring that the target market is potentially receptive to the concept.
Principal concepts of concept testing
According to a research paper by Sally Ann Fraser in 1994, the principal objectives of concept testing include:
- identification of poor concepts so they can be dropped;
- estimation of the size of the potential market;
- identification of the various market segments and their characteristics;
- identification of potential improvements to the concept;
- identification of appropriate positioning strategies (with respect to price, promotion,and distribution);
- identification of potential cannibalization of existing products.
Why concept testing should also have an external component
Conducting concept testing internally can potentially uncover issues and challenges of a new product design, and should be part of the product development process. However, it’s equally important to get the input from an outside resource who can assist with concept analysis to ensure the feasibility of the product without looking through the lense of the organization. A reputable product design firm can assist in all aspect of product development, but playing a role in concept testing early in the process may prove to be one of the more crucial roles that companies can leverage.
Processes for concept testing
Concept testing can take many forms. A few of the more common approaches to concept testing include:
- Internal interviews
- Consumer surveys
- Cognitive interviewing
Regardless of how concept testing is implemented, ensuring both internal resources and external resources are involved will contribute to the success of the testing. The investigation of potential consumers’ reactions to a proposed product or service before introducing the product or service to market must be done by companies looking to launch a product or invest in the development of an idea.
Before launching a new product development project, make sure that concept testing is built into the product design process to ensure the best results possible.