A concept is abstract, but it plays an important role in cognition. People subconsciously judge a product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. If the concept is innovative and engaging, it increases brand recall and awareness. These influence the customer’s decision-making and improve market performance and brand equity.
Creativity leads to unique concepts, but not every concept is innovative. For a concept to be innovative, it must provide viable solutions to existing and foreseeable business problems. Testing your concept gives motion to these ideas, making you deliver better value to your customers and build better customer relationships.
Concept testing is one of the best ways to ensure that your concept is worth the investment. Given the variability in market dynamics, testing your concept will help you stay ahead of the curve and foster growth.
The biggest problem companies encountered when launching a new product is lack of preparation. (Harvard Business School)
What is Concept Testing?
It is an early market research method used to test a thought or idea by exposing it to a set of respondents. It can be done for a product, service, ad campaign, logo, etc.
In a survey, concept testing can be done using mainly two designs- Monadic and Sequential Monadic
Why is Concept Testing necessary?
84% of customers say it is somewhat or very important that the company they buy from is innovative. (Lab42)
Developing a product or service is not an easy process. The market is highly competitive, and brands constantly try to maintain or increase their market share. In this race, innovation is what keeps the engine running.
42% of shutdown start-ups that launched a product didn't solve a valid customer problem. (CBInsights)
Concept Testing helps you navigate through an endless tunnel of market research. Many brands face failures even after extensive market research. Conducting market research is not the end goal here; conducting effective ones is. Concept Testing can help your brand understand in-depth the factors that will influence its success.
Let's look at some concept failures over the years that prove why it's important to stay ahead of the game-
In 2000, British Petroleum spent an astronomical amount on rebranding. The sun-like appearance of the new logo made it appear more eco-friendly, which it was not. Even though this logo worked well till 2010, Greenpeace asked them to change it after the oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has spent millions of dollars on improving its brand image but has not still been able to do so successfully.
In 2013, Burger King came up with 'Satisfries' to meet the growing demand for healthy food. While it was a good idea to cater to the calorie conscious, this product backfired massively, making Burger King remove it from the menu of over 5000 franchises. The customers did not consider the brand to be 'healthy', and these fries costing more than regular fries also did not sit well with the target audience.
Dove's body-shaped bottles wanted to promote body positivity but received backlash for being 'farcical' and 'patronizing.' Dove had good intentions but was heavily misguided. It was criticised for "compounding the issue of being the wrong fit".
A brand whose online ad is perceived as annoying is $.153 more expensive per ad displayed. (American Marketing Association)
These examples remind us how important it is to conduct practical concept tests keeping the customer's feelings, perception, attitude, and consumption pattern in mind.
You may have a fantastic concept all set to revolutionize the world, but it may be vulnerable to external variables like- climate change, natural calamities, pandemics, wars, etc. A continued assessment of your concept is the best to overcome such limiting factors.
Common Concept Testing Mistakes
#1 Considering it a replacement for the Ideation Phase in the Innovation Process
Concept Testing tests the idea that stems from the ideation phase; it does not replace it. It does not matter if the concept is fully formed; fragments of the concept can be tested for getting valuable feedback.
#2 Overstuffing concepts in one test
You may feel that adding multiple concepts in a single survey will save time, but it may become a long, tiring, and confusing experience for the respondents taking the test.
#3 Not accounting for response bias
Response bias refers to the tendency of a respondent to untruthfully or misleadingly answer questions asked in a survey. This may hamper the quality of your results and not taking appropriate measure to minimise it may derail your research study.
Related Read : How to tackle Cultural Response Bias in 2022!
#4 Stopping after initial insights
Getting the answers in one go may satisfy your grievances, but you will miss out on getting the full advantage. Given the volatile nature of the market and consumer mindset, having insights that vary with time and research methods will give you holistic and in-depth insights.
#5 Cancelling the test after negative feedback
While conducting the test, you will have certain expectations about the feedback you’re about to receive from the respondents. Canceling the test process after receiving unexpected feedback will leave your market research vulnerable to uncertainty and failure.
#6 Using Technical jargon
Language plays a vital role in comprehension and interpretation. Using acronyms, research terminology, or technical jargon in Quant surveys will lead to will lead to unnecessary confusion and frustration in respondents.
Behavioral Research - Your Ace Card!
Behavioral research is a method which is used to examine and gather data about an individual’s (or a group of respondents’) social behavior. This method is essentially used to get a better understanding of the individual’s psychological triggers. This helps measure the person’s attention, engagement and emotional response and get a sense of what they feel at the subconscious level. Brands use this method to know in-depth about their customers and/or potential customers.
A common misconception when it comes to behavioral research is that it is new. The study of human behavior is over 100 years old, and Sigmund Freud gave us deep insights that most of human behavior is unconscious.
With nudges—subtle interventions based on insights from psychology and economics—we can influence people’s behavior without restricting it. (Source: McKinsey)
Other common misconceptions that brands have are that behavioral research requires special equipment, highly specialised staff, additional allocation of money and more time. Moreover as a newbie to behavioral research, brands get bogged down by the fear of failure. What they do not realise is by placing faith on intuition instead of hard evidence is making them more vulnerable to failure and loss of revenue.
Factors derived through behavioural science had a 44 per cent stronger impact on repeat sales transactions (Source: Raconteur)
In the examples we saw above, the Dove in its market research actually showed promise. Then how did it still fail? Traditional market research just depends on the answers provided by consumers. It doesn’t take it account limiting factors like bias, generosity error, emotions, perception, interpretation etc. It is very difficult to segregate the answers that have been given genuinely and the ones that were given without much thought.
A modern research method which uses behavioral analysis of your respondents while they take the test reduces and eliminates these problems. Technology has come a long way and by integrating facial coding and eye tracking, online platforms provide a way for brands to know their customers at a subconscious level with not much dependency on hardware or logistics.
The facial action coding system was originally developed by Carl-Herman Hjortsjö in the late 60’s and pioneered by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen in the 70’s. It is used to analyse the facial expressions of a person mainly through facial muscle movements. This is done to evaluate the person’s emotion response and better understand what they truly feel.
These movements are broken down into ‘Action Units’ (AU) and are identified by a number, where each unit represented changes in one or more facial muscles.
The facial movements are captured while a respondent takes the product test. These movements are then processed frame by frame to give insights about the respondent’s emotional journey while taking the test.
Eye Tracking is used for measuring, analyzing, and interpreting data based on the position of the eyeball. The interest arose for this kind of a method was to understand the relationship between the brain and the visual system.
Two types of eye movement can be distinguished –
1) Fixations - These are relative pauses in the movement of the eye during which the retina stabilizes at a specific point in the visual field.
2) Saccades - These are quick eye movements occurring between fixations that rely on eyes moving from one place to another.
The eye movement gives a detailed understanding of the respondent’s visual path. It also makes it easy to isolate the focus areas of the product making it possible to evaluate the areas that will garner the most attention.
Even though behavioral research gives in-depth insights that are scalable and reliable, brands are skeptical about adopting it. Switching to a new method and experimenting may seem like walking on uncharted territory, but it is important that brands get over their false sense of security and evolve with time. Even though behavioral research goes a step out of the comfort zone of traditional research methods, it is making headway at some brands.
Entropik Tech makes Facial Coding and Eye Tracking highly accessible and easy to use with the help of webcams or smartphone cameras, while providing lab-level accuracy. With zero hardware dependency and easy accessibility, AI technologies like these are democratizing behavioral research and making it a must have methodology in research studies.
The Right Product Test Strategy
Now that you have got a brief idea about why product testing is important, let’s look at how you should plan your strategy -
Decide when you want to test your concept
As a brand, you may feel that pre-testing is the ultimate way to test out your concepts like if you want to do a competitor analysis. But there are cases where conducting a post-test is best option for you, especially if you want to do a comparative study with your previously launched concepts.
Select your target audience
It is important that you select your target audience carefully. Understanding your respondent’s demography, age, gender etc. can help you bias and get reliable and actionable results.
Choose the metrics you want to evaluate
Focus on what you really want to know about your customer. Do you want to know if you were able to capture their attention? Or do you want to know if they could really connect with the concept? Ask yourself these questions before you proceed to your concept test.
Set-up your campaign
This might seem like an easy task, but there are lot things to consider here. For example- number of concepts the respondent will be exposed to, the screening, pre and post survey questions, the question type, the total test duration etc. To avoid fatigue, keep your questions relevant and the number of concepts limited to a maximum of 3-4.
Related Read- The Ultimate Guide to Survey Question Types!
Integrate Behavioral Research
Using behavioral research while conducting your concept tests will give you an edge over your competitors and help you conduct effective market research, saving you money and time.
Send out your campaign
It is essential that you decide the mode of transmission. If the campaign is not device friendly or takes too much time to load, respondents will not complete the test. Do a bit research to understand how you can optimize your campaign’s testability based on your target audience.
Concept Testing is a great way to know your brand’s message will be perceived by your consumers. Complementing it with Behavioral Research will help you tap into the subconscious mind of your customers and get scalable, accurate and actionable results.
Using Entropik Tech’s quantitative and qualitative research platform you can tackle response bias with ease. It gives you access to not just behavioural research, but you can conduct preliminary tests, utilise the global emotion benchmark score for better competitor analysis, run surveys in over 17 languages and use over 22 survey question types, to understand what works best for your research study.
 Białowąs, Sylwester, and Adrianna Szyszka. “Eye-tracking in Marketing Research.” Managing Economic Innovations-Methods and Instruments (2019): 91-104.