Concept Testing evaluates the appeal of a proposition/product and the degree to which this fits with the target market’s needs and tastes. Critics of concept testing accuse it of risking a conservatism that means familiar ideas tend to be the most warmly received – while more unusual ones are rejected as consumers can’t envisage how these might fit in with their lives. This phenomenon is summed up by Henry Ford’s famous quote: ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.’
What are the aims of Concept Testing?
Concept Testing tends to be used in 1 of 2 ways – firstly, to select from a number of different potential concepts the one most worthy of investment. Secondly, if there’s only one candidate, it can evaluate whether this is fit for launch and reveal any tweaks that would make it even more likely to succeed.
How is Concept Testing undertaken?
This research typically involves both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Qualitative approaches are mostly used at an early development stage and tend to focus on identifying the refinements that will make a concept the best it can be. Quantitative work allows concepts to be tested amongst a wider audience and generally focuses on finding ‘the winner’ amongst a sub-set of contenders. For companies that introduce a lot of new concepts, benchmark scores can be effective in understanding how strong appeal needs to be if an idea is to succeed once launched. We favour A/B Testing for the quantitative appraisal of a concept as this most closely resembles the way new propositions are encountered in real life.
More innovative means of concept testing are emerging where a brand creates dummy versions of social media posts or website homepages and sees how much traction these get in a real-world environment.
What’s an example of Concept Testing?
A leading supermarket asked us to concept test new packaging for its own-label baby products. It was keen to adopt a look that was a clear departure from the hallmarks of the major brands. Our research showed this to be a dangerous path – customers being so habituated to seeing reliability as bound up with the visual cues used by the big names.
What is Concept Testing?