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An Underutilized Qualitative Method in Product Testing

Depriving consumers of the product you’re testing!

I know it sounds crazy but it’s a wonderful technique that really establishes a need for the product and helps uncover the emotional and functional relationship to a product. Oftentimes, we don’t think about the true value a product provides, until it’s gone.


In an activation/deprivation exercise, we would recruit consumers who currently use your product (or a version of your product). Those people would be instructed to NOT use that product over the course of 1 week [dependent on the category] and blog about their experience. This blog can be in a form of a ‘love letter’ or literally just journaling how they feel without their ‘beloved’ deodorant or fizzy water, for example. As researchers we would pay attention to if they could easily replace the product with something else or they were just miserable for an entire week. Obviously, the latter is better, but if they were able to replace it with something else, can your brand learn something from that replacement product?


Deprivation technique in practice

Years ago, I did a technology study for a mobile phone company. They wanted to understand consumers’ relationship with phones and particularly how families navigate rules around phone usage. We recruited families who used this carrier and had them not use their phones for 1 week. (They were allowed to use them in case of an emergency.) After a week, we learned that families actually grew closer without their phones. When they had access to their phones they would isolate, text friends and not talk to each other. Without their phones they were forced to play games, sit down to dinner and TALK without texting. This ignited a change in how the company communicated with their customers. They made their communication strategy all around ways the phone can bring them together.


As experts in product testing, we need to continue to bring in new ways to uncover the insights that will drive your business forward. At MarketView, we push the envelope by combining traditional qualitative techniques with new, advanced methods to gain deeper insights and connections with consumers. Coupled with our quantitative expertise, we provide brands a more holistic view of their products- giving them confidence to bring products to market successfully.


Learn more about our Qualitative expertise or contact us today.


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