Why Concept Testing is Crucial — And How to Do It Before a New Launch

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Think back on your entrepreneurial career. When releasing a particular product or service for purchase, did you ever experience a complete flop?

Whether it was a ground-breaking software, a never-before-used marketing tool or a mind-blowing new tech product, you were certain your innovation was going to majorly impact the market. But your confidence wasn’t backed with clear proof, and the product idea wasn’t tested to ensure adequate interest — which can result in a real-life game of risk.

Concept testing : What is that?

According to the Business Dictionary, concept testing’s definition is the “stage in the product development process where a detailed description of a product (and of its attributes and benefits) is presented to prospective customers or users to assess their attitudes and intentions toward the product.”

In other words, concept testing is a way to optimize your innovation, drastically reduce the risk of project failure and limit excessive costs.

Concept testing is crucial for product developers to determine the innovation’s chance of success. Read on to learn why concept testing is important and how to test your own innovations before putting them on the market.

What it takes to engage in concept testing

Concept testing is important because it can shed light on potential blind spots, inefficiencies, misinterpretations or problems that can result in market disinterest. It allows you to review with fresh eyes five critical aspects of your project:

1. A better understanding of the customer’s issue

For your project to succeed, the problem it solves must be crystal clear to consumers. To determine this, first identify the pain points:

• What is the issue your innovation fixes?
• Who specifically experiences this problem and why?
• When do they experience it, and how often?
• How important is the problem?
• How does your project directly address the issue?

While this is typically determined in the early stages of a product’s development, it’s vital to circle back and see how your initial vision aligns with the end user’s experience.

2. Envisioning — and improving — potential solutions

ensuring new solutions

In your consumer’s eyes, does your project offer an adequate solution to their problem? How can you implement suggested solutions to further improve your concept?

You may already have a clear list of solutions, but concept testing gives you a completely new set of eyes to understand your innovation’s potential in a whole new way.

3. Evaluating your project’s technical and functional feasibility

How well your product idea is designed will have a direct effect on buyer interest. Does it use the most up-to-take, efficient and reliable technologies?

Also, one of the most important questions concept testing can answer: does it work? In today’s fast-paced world, the most frequently purchased products are ones that are easy to use with features that make sense to consumers — requiring very little explanation or ramp-up time.

4. A new perspective on your solution’s value

Product concept tests reveal if your target market values and would willingly buy your solution. The best insights will help you reevaluate your value proposition, market valuation and most importantly, the ROI for your company. Also consider your brand’s image, marketing abilities and financial needs.

5. A true gage of market readiness

This is the moment of truth. Good concept testing will help you answer the ultimate question: is my innovation really ready? If you can still answer “yes” after thoroughly analyzing your concept test results, then come time to launch, you’ll be much more confident of the solution’s economic viability and potential to meet market expectations.

How do I test my concept?

Now that you know why concept testing is so valuable, it’s time to actually do it. Here are five ways to test for market viability:

1. Create a prototype

If your innovation is a physical item such as an electronic or mechanical product, you’ll need a physical prototype for testing. Today, these can be quickly made via moulds and 3D printers. For maximum results, your prototype should simulate the product as closely and realistically as possible.

If your project is digital, the web application can be tested via printed powerpoint presentations or digital powerpoints with dynamic animations and interactive effects.

2. Perform A/B testing

The first cause of failure for an innovative project is not the fact the plan was badly executed, but the fact the wrong plan was executed. Through objective feedback, A/B testing offers fascinating insights to help you determine which strategies for your innovation are the most beneficial to pursue.

When launching your innovation’s website, for instance, you can make several versions of the same landing page to see which format and messaging brings the most traffic — especially through sponsored digital campaigns on social networks. This helps gage overall product interest while helping you determine which messaging is the most effective.

3. Conduct a focus group

A focus group is a physical gathering of relevant targets in your project’s specific field and product category who provide real-time feedback. The value lies in their ability to provide immediate, first-hand perceptions and reactions to your concept, offering a realistic idea of how the market will react. Here, audience segmentation is key — the quality of the study depends on it. The more precise the targeting, the more relevant, reliable and actionable the feedback.

4. Compile a survey

Surveys and questionnaires help determine the final buyer’s willingness to buy. In addition to A/B testing and focus groups, surveys offer valuable insights from the specific market.

This step is where custom market research comes into play. UMI utilizes surveys from targeted professionals and key decision makers to create valuable qualitative research reports on a specific innovation — providing a detailed, accurate and actionable overview of your market.

5. Use Virtual Reality

Through simulating the buying journey via innovative heat maps or eye tracking technology, virtual reality has become a prized market research tool. When used in concept testing, it can produce real-time, visual, hands-on feedback like never before.

Product concept testing’s value lies in the fact that assumptions are replaced with reality — and often, it creates more questions than answers. But perhaps this is the point: the more questions that arise, the more you’ll be able to fine-tune your project until it’s something you’re proud to put on the market. 

Remember, it’s better to blow away 1% of the population than to only moderately please 100%.

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