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What is product testing and how can it help?
Using surveys to conduct product testing is an effective element of a market research program and a valuable way to assess what people think of your product during its early development stages.
By helping to validate the direction you are taking or inform you of any improvements you need to make, a product survey can ensure you are better able to meet your customers’ expectations. Offering you a fresh pair of eyes, surveys can also reveal any problems you need to fix at a much earlier stage, which can help reduce the risk of any product performance problems further down the line.
Through questions that ask your audience how they feel about your product, such as how much they like and find it useful, to how likely they would buy and be prepared to pay for it, the product testing template helps you to better assess your product’s market appeal. And with the inclusion of one or two open-ended questions that invite respondents to list anything they feel needs to be improved, you will be more likely to build a finished product that meets the challenges and needs of your target market.
Globally more than six-in-10 respondents (63%) say they like it when manufacturers introduce new products. - Nielsen (PDF download)
Why do product surveys matter?
Given today’s fast-moving markets and demanding consumers, the pressure to introduce new innovative products, stay relevant and keep your business moving forward has never been more critical. Yet, this is impossible to do if you don’t know what potential customers might want and need. And the only way to achieve that is through a mechanism that allows you to collect feedback from potential customers during the early product development stages. That’s where the product testing survey is so effective.
It is also useful in terms of segmenting your target audience, as the responses it provides can allow you to identify different groups that each share common attributes that they desire from your product. This can enable you to tailor your marketing strategy to different groups accordingly and improve your overall chances of success.
Time is money, so having spent considerable time developing your product before releasing it to the market, you will need to get it right first time. With a product survey you will have the tools to do this, as it enables you to gain valuable insights throughout the entire lifecycle of your product from its initial concept ideas right through to customer satisfaction.
Only 50 percent of product launches meet business targets. - McKinsey
How to create a product survey
The benefits gained from product testing should be evident long before the product you are trying to develop becomes a reality. And that process needs to start with concept testing.
Whether it’s a selection of new product designs and features, or a new website landing page, company logo or packaging, or developing your pricing strategy, whatever you need to get feedback for directly from your target audience, concept testing enables you to refine your initial ideas irrespective of how simple or sophisticated they may be.
Using the survey format, you can gather feedback on many different concepts from a wide range of potential customers, before defining and developing the ones that resonate with them the most. Once these have been developed further, you can also re-visit them by conducting more testing with your customers to bring you closer to your finished product.
How to write product testing questions
While making your survey questions short and easy to complete will help to maximise your engagement and response rates, it’s also important to think about the accuracy of your results, as this will be paramount to ultimately developing a product that consumers want. To get the most accurate results, product surveys should be written from as neutral a point of view as possible.
It’s generally recommended to avoid using a lot of overt branding, or first-person language such as “we” and “our” when discussing the product. By simply talking about “the” product, this will encourage respondents to answer as honestly as possible, even if that feedback is negative.
More than 25 percent of total revenue and profits across industries comes from the launch of new products. - McKinsey
7 ways product surveys add value
During the earlier development stages there’s a whole host of situations where you can use surveys to overcome challenges and help build products that are more in tune with the audiences you are trying to reach. These include:
1. New product features
When you are trying to identify the right features for your product, it’s critical to address this during the testing stage when minimal resources have been committed to any particular product configuration.
Based on customer needs research, your survey questions can help reveal what features your potential audience finds interesting, useful and values the most. This can also help highlight gaps in the market that your product can fill.
2. New logos
Identifying a logo that both effectively communicates your brand and is clear and easy for your customers to understand can be a challenge, but this process can be made a lot simpler with a product testing survey.
Whether you want to see how they respond to your new logo, or if they pick up on any attributes you are trying to communicate such as innovation, trust, quality or anything else, surveys are a great way to test different design concepts or ideas with your customers and identify a logo that will best resonate with them.
3. Website launch or re-design
Re-designing your website or launching a brand new one is a major investment. So, you will want to ensure it’s as engaging as you can make it, and everything performs well when it goes live. Using a survey to share your design concepts with future users is an effective way of gathering their thoughts and making any necessary tweaks to your website, so it best fits their needs.
4. Name testing
Similarly, to your logo, the name of your company or product can have a major impact on your customers, in terms of the feelings it evokes in them and how they perceive it. So, testing a few ideas with them can help you to develop a company or product name that is most likely to attract them.
5. Package testing
Packaging can also make a big difference to how a consumer perceives your product and whether they want to look at it further and go on to buy it.
If it’s not visually appealing and perceived to be of lower quality, you will risk it being overlooked by your customers who will move on to another product. By asking your customers the right questions at the testing stage, you will be much better placed to develop packaging that grabs their attention.
Your messaging is critical, in terms of how well it communicates the value of your product or service offering. Does it engage and entice your audience, or confuse and discourage them? By testing a series of messaging concepts with them, you will be more able to develop messaging that engages and attracts.
7. Price testing
Getting your pricing right is also important. If it’s too low people are likely to question its quality, while setting it too high risks consumers not even considering buying it.
With the right survey questions, you will be able to get an insight into the buying habits of your target audience, how much they may be prepared to pay for your product and any competitor products they may be using currently. This will enable you to position your product at a price point that is most likely to generate the sales that you need.
Why the right audience is vital in product testing
Having written your survey and depending on your product and the aspects of it that you are looking to test, you will need to ensure that everything is set up correctly with your target audience before you send it.
From your sample size to the demographics of the group you are looking to survey, it is essential that it supports what you are looking to investigate. If anything is incorrect, it can be damaging to the reliability of your results and what you are able to achieve from your insights going forward.
While for some scenarios you may already have enough of the right contacts in your customer database to carry out an effective survey, in other instances, especially if you are moving into a new market or are just starting out, finding enough people to take your survey can be more challenging.
Getting the right people to complete your product survey
If you need to identify the right target audience, demographics and sample size for your product, there are several tools that can help you.
Depending on your product, you may have designed it to appeal to different demographics, whether that’s a specific age, gender, income level or any other target groups you have identified.
By enabling you to buy responses to your survey’s questions from a live consumer audience, Consumer Panels is a fast, effective way of reaching the people you need. It can be extremely invaluable if you are looking to launch a new product to market, as the rapid response you receive allows you to quickly determine and validate if there is a sizeable and profitable enough market for you to work with.
If you would like to learn more about Consumer Panel services, including an idea of how much it might cost you, why not take a look at our Consumer Panels solution.
Sample size calculator
Equally important to the reliability of your results is having the right sample size. If your sample size is too small and generates too few responses, your resulting data may not be fully representative of your target population. This would make your results both inaccurate and insufficient in terms of their ability to help inform your decision making.
In contrast, too large a sample size that yields too little response data, can take too much time and resources to analyse, which is unhelpful when you are looking to introduce a new product quickly. So, you need a way of calculating exactly how many responses you require to get the most accurate results possible, which is also representative of your target population.
The sample size calculator makes this simple to work out and is particularly valuable if you are planning on buying consumer panels and need to work out how many you require. If you are planning on doing a product test survey and want to find out how many survey responses you will need to obtain the desired level of accuracy in your results, you might like try out our sample size calculator. Similarly, if you would like to measure your margin of error, you might like to try our margin of error calculator.
How product surveys benefit your business
Having identified your audience, devised your questions, calculated and obtained the right sample size and then sent out your product testing survey, you will be in a much better placed to meet the objectives you set out to achieve from new product development.
From an increased market share and brand recognition to a reduced time to market and a better return on investment, the benefits of a new product launch can be huge and far reaching when you better understand what your customers want and need. So, it’s essential to do everything you can to maximise its success before you proceed. And while there will always be an element of risk, this will be significantly reduced and your chances of accomplishing what you set out achieve substantially increased if you carry out a product testing survey.
More than half (57%) say they purchased a new product during their last shopping trip. - Nielsen (PDF download)
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