Updated: Nov 17, 2022
On the surface, product testing seems pretty simple and straightforward. You have a product, you want to see what consumers think, you send it out and collect feedback. Simple enough, right? Well, the devil is in the details. And while pulse surveys are great for a quick read on consumer feedback, product testing results are better when the testing is designed and executed by professionals experienced in the field. When challenges come up during testing, product testing experts supply the guidance, support and quality needed to conduct successful testing- and help brands focus their attention and budget in the right ways. And with an ever-changing consumer environment, and the need to get to market quickly, conducting successful product tests right the first time is critical. Here are 5 ways to ensure success:
1) Time for Action!
Knowing what you want to achieve ahead of time is key. What do you want your product test to achieve? What should it measure? Defining your goals and metrics (aka actions standards) is a critical first step in any product test. It supplies a foundation when you begin to evaluate the eventual results and analysis- helping guide direction and plan. For example, you may want to test for:
· Usefulness: Does it solve the problem it was intended to solve?
· Ease of use: How effortless is it for people to use it?
· Visual design: Does it look good?
· Price for Value: Is it too expensive or too cheap?
· Quality: Does your product seem high quality and reliable?
· Marketing efficiency: Does your target audience relate to your marketing message?
· Innovativeness: What is new and unique about your product?
· Purchase intent: Would your audience be willing to purchase your product?
2) Know your audience and get your sample right
Who is your ideal consumer? Defining who they are and recruiting an unbiased representative sample to evaluate your product will help achieve an accurate picture of what consumers think. Ensuring a readable sample size not only in total but among key segments should be part of the foundational planning for the product test.
3) Define the type of test
In-Home Use Tests (IHUTs) and Central Location Tests (CLTs) are the two traditional product testing methodologies. With IHUTs, products are evaluated in the participant's own home; with CLTs, consumers test a product in a central venue, most typically at a shopping mall. To decide what methodology is best, time, geography, target audience, budget, and product category must be considered. Typically, IHUTs, can yield significant cost savings over CLTs.
4) Focus on tighter controls and processes
Regardless of methodology, having stringent controls is essential for ensuring a successful test. The careful handling, processing/packaging of your product, as well as clear testing instructions creates an important first impression that can stick with consumers throughout the product test- so you’ll want to ensure this is done well and packages arrive as planned. Additionally, double validating addresses against USPS databases to ensure product gets in the right hands is key- a step many product testing firms overlook- resulting in lost or unopened, wasted product. When focused on developing processes it can minimize disruptions to the test- creating a seamless testing experience for all.
5) Have the right mechanisms to collect and analyze feedback
When it comes to asking consumers for their feedback, there needs to be a proper framework in place so that the feedback can be collected in a structured way that yields meaningful data which isn’t affected by the consumers biases. Also, making it easy for consumers to log feedback is important as it will help speed up collection, deep analysis and insight from experienced product teams that can further speed up your product innovation journey- providing strategic partnership and direction that can further support your product goals.
Conclusion Product testing is a necessary step on the innovation journey which must be conducted carefully and precisely if your company is to have any hope of successfully launching a new product that is superior in the eyes of consumers. It pays to be meticulous in your product testing process as you will be able to gain useful information that not only informs you of whether or not your product is favored by consumers, but also gives you data that can be used to improve your product or even formulate marketing strategies further down the line.
For 20+ years, MarketView Research has been the go-to product testing and research firm for top brands. Our focus is to always provide relevant and essential insights so you can move forward with confidence to launch products that better connect, engage and build loyalty with your customers.