Concept Testing: Exploring Surveys And Best Practices To Improve Your Product Launch
When you consider that 95% of new products reportedly fail due to a lack of preparation, it’s clear that businesses need to have more effective product development planning processes in place, if they’re to avoid becoming part of this statistic.
Consequently, concept testing has a major part to play in the success of a new product or any product changes. It achieves this by allowing businesses to gauge interest and obtain feedback from their target audience about any areas that need improving.
Concept testing works best in iteration, which despite its potential to be costly and time-consuming, can significantly heighten a product’s chance of profitability in the long run.
Although, it can be daunting to implement a robust product roadmap, routinely fine-tuning different stages through concept evaluation can make it a rewarding one.
Why is concept testing important?
Concept testing is a vital part of product development, as the insights it provides helps reduce the risks of relying on ill-informed research and guesswork.
By testing product concepts with a target audience, businesses are better able to determine customer pain-points, make respective adjustments, then repeat the process. This is particularly crucial for pricing and features, where even minor adjustments can be the difference between failure or success.
While concept testing can extend product development timeline, it helps to eliminate a major amount of time wasted on misguided efforts, by stamping out any bad ideas at the earliest stage of development, which could otherwise be hugely costly. In this sense, concept evaluation helps to steer product ideas in the right direction, as it highlights which concepts are stronger than others. This can ultimately allow businesses to focus their development efforts on the right ideas and increase their chances of a successful launch.
In the rest of this blog, we’ll explore the benefits and different ways of concept testing, as well as the best practices for creating an effective concept testing survey.
Benefits of concept testing
While it can be tempting to assume that every new feature or product idea you come up with will be a success. In reality, this is very rarely the case.
Only customers can determine whether an idea will succeed or fail. That’s why it’s essential to test out your ideas and concepts before you launch them to your customers, as the insights you gather during concept testing will enable you to launch more effective and successful products.
Concept testing allows you to get in-depth insights about different aspects of your idea. It can also enable you to ask questions about a specific feature, design and functionality, pricing and more. This helps you to assess the validity of every detail before you launch your product.
Organisations and businesses use surveys to carry out concept testing, so it’s a relatively simple proposition for brands of all sizes to utilize.
Concept testing methods
When it comes to concept testing methods, there are four primary methods of testing, all suitable for different types of research.
The first of these four is called comparison testing.
Using this method, two or more concepts are presented to respondents. The respondents are then asked to compare these concepts by using rating or ranking questions or merely asked to select the best concept displayed.
Comparison tests provide clear and easily understandable results, so it’s simple to determine which concept is the winner.
However, the results can lack context, as there’s no way of telling why the respondents chose one concept over another. So, it’s essential to understand these details before successfully launching a product.
Under monadic testing the target audience is broken down into multiple groups. And then rather than being shown different concepts together as with the previous approach, each group is just shown a single concept only.
The good thing about this approach is that it allows researchers to go in-depth without making a survey too long. The researchers can then always ask follow-up questions about various attributes, such as what they liked about the concept, it’s look and feel, price point, and more. However, although each group of respondents sees different concepts in isolation, the follow-up questions to each concept will be the same.
Given that this approach allows researchers the flexibility to ask multiple follow-up questions, there tends to be more context around why a specific concept is better than others than is possible with comparison testing.
However, since the target audience is split into multiple groups, the sample size required to conduct a monadic test will be larger than the previous testing approach. So, if you use monadic testing, you’ll have to factor in that your research costs are likely to be much more expensive.
Sequential monadic testing
Similar to the monadic test, in sequential monadic tests, the target audience is also split into multiple groups.
However, instead of presenting one concept in isolation, each group is shown all the concepts, with the order of those concepts randomised in order to reduce research bias. And the respondents are asked the same set of follow-up questions for each concept to get further insights.
Given that each group of respondents sees all the concepts together, which can be tested in a single round, the size of the target audience needed to conduct a sequential monadic test is relatively small. This makes it much more cost effective than monadic testing.
However, since all of the concepts are presented to each group of respondents, the length of the questionnaire is fairly long. This can harm the completion rate and introduce non-response bias. So, researchers then have to balance any decision to reduce the number of questions in their questionnaire against the depth of insight they may lose as a result of this. Sequential monadic tests can also be subject to further biases including order or interaction bias.
The final concept testing method is protomonadic testing.
Under this approach a sequential monadic test is followed by a comparison test, with the objective that respondents must first evaluate multiple concepts and then choose the concept they prefer.
This design is helpful for validating the results of a sequential monadic test. It can also enable researchers to verify if the concept selected in the comparison test is compatible with the insights collected about each idea.
Having chosen which method, you want to use; you’ll then need to design a survey to conduct your test, which we will go on to look at next.
Concept testing survey design
Concept testing is carried out using an online survey.
The survey will need to be designed to analyse respondents’ feelings about your concepts or ideas, with the data collected used to help determine what customers prefer or don’t like.
Here are a few tips to help you design an effective concept-testing survey.
1. Set a survey objective
Having set an overall objective for your survey, it’s easier to come up with good questions that will help you to collect the most appropriate insights about your concept.
It helps to consider the key motives of your test and the particular details that you want to learn from your customers. That way you can design a survey with relevant questions and collect meaningful information about your customers’ viewpoints.
2. Consistent survey design
You also need to think about what you can do design wise to make your survey easier to read and follow.
A good way to achieve this is to group related questions using survey blocks. Essentially, survey blocks allow you to group particular questions together by themes, to create a more well-ordered flow for your survey, which is simpler for respondents to answer. This is especially effective for longer and more complicated surveys.
3. Likert scales
Another way to make your survey easier to complete is to use Likert scale questions.
Likert scales are rating scale questions with an odd-numbered series of answer choices, usually between five to seven, which typically range from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”.
The use of Likert scale questions helps to create a more consistent design for your survey, which is not only easier for respondents to answer, but is simpler for you to analyse the data too.
4. Demographic questions
It can be helpful to include demographic questions in your survey, in order to check that respondents are part of your target audience.
The reason for this is that while you may receive negative feedback about your concept, some of this may have nothing to do with your idea, but more about a respondent not being interested in your product, because they’re not your ideal customer. Therefore, it’s essential to include demographic survey questions to ensure your concept will be successful with your ideal customers.
5. Include images
There will be times when images will be much more valuable than words, particularly when you need respondents to provide feedback about a visual concept.
Logo testing is a good example of this. In such a scenario, you can display different concepts of your logo design to your respondents and get them to select the one they like best. This eliminates any bias and provides easily digestible results.
Having read through some handy tips to help you design an effective concept-testing survey, it can be helpful to look at some potential use cases for concept testing.
Concept testing use cases
The following provides a good overview of some of the most common use cases for concept testing.
Concept testing is particularly popular among companies, who use it to help them make decisions during the development of new products.
From identifying which features customers care about and which ones they have no interest in, to knowing what pain points customers are experiencing with existing features. Through concept testing and usability studies, you can better gauge customer expectations, make adjustments and increase your chances of a successful product launch.
New homepage design
It can be tricky when it comes to redesigning your homepage. Yet it's crucial, as for most SaaS and eCommerce businesses, the homepage is their first touchpoint with potential customers. That’s why it’s important to get everything right with your website redesign.
Concept testing can enable you to present your designs to customers, see how they interact with them and get a clear idea of what they feel. You can then use these results to help iron out flaws in your design and be prepare for a more effective launch.
New logo testing
No matter what business you’re in, your company logo will be a vital part of your company’s brand. In fact, it’s usually one of the first things that a customer notices about your business.
Consequently, when you’re designing a new logo, it’s crucial to know how customers might react to your new design and visually communicate your brand.
With concept testing you get to test lots of different designs with your customers and develop a logo that really resonates with them.
It’s probably not too surprising to see this one listed as testing of website ads, banners and images is common practice to help identify the best ones.
The insights from concept testing can help you to see which ad grabs the most attention or results in the most conversions. And because this feedback comes directly from consumers, you’re more able to trust its validity and plan your respective advertisement and marketing strategy.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog. And if you were not already familiar with concept testing, you’re now better informed about its use and how it can benefit you.
Ultimately, if you’re launching a new product, or revamping a current one, you need a concept test, as without your target audience’s guidance you will be relying on guesswork and be more at risk of a failed launch.
By contrast, if you use surveys to carry out concept testing, it will help you to unlock insights that allow you to identify the best ideas for your product and maximise its chances of success when it comes to launching it.