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Tag Archives: Product Concept Testing

How Sure Are Your Consumers Will Buy Your New Products? – A.J. Riedel; Founder & Sr. Partner of Riedel Marketing Group

Consumer Shopper Graphic Image

2013 is rapidly drawing to a close and the International Home + Housewares Show is just around the corner. You are probably pretty much done – or close to being done — with product development of your line for 2014. Depending on how long it takes your company to develop a new product from concept to final product, you’ve probably already started development of your line for 2015. You may already be pretty far along in the product development process.

How Certain Are You About Your New Products?

Let me ask you a question: How sure are you that the products you are developing for 2014 and 2015 are going to sell through? In other words, how certain are you that consumers are going to buy your products when they hit store shelves next year or the year after?  When it all comes down to it, the success of your new products depends on the consumer and whether they will buy.

How to Reduce Uncertainty

The fact is, you can never be 100% certain that the products you are developing are products that consumers are going to want to buy. The entire new product development process is fraught with uncertainty and risk. But you can reduce the uncertainty and risk.

How? By conducting product concept tests early on in the new product development process to find out what consumers think of your new product concepts.

Product concept testing does not replace management intuition and experience. Certainly, intuition grounded by years of in-market experience should always be listened to carefully, but it pays to augment even the best intuition with consumer feedback. Product concept testing provides another viewpoint — that of the people who are actually going to buy and use the product — to help counter the blinders-on optimism that the people developing the product often get as they fall in love with their product.

The Benefits of Product Concept Testing

The biggest benefit of integrating concept testing into your new product development process is that you could potentially save tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in product development and tooling by identifying the marginal products that have a low probability of success before you’ve invested much money in development.

There are eight other benefits:

1) A higher percent of your new product introductions will be successes and your company will make more money.

2) You’ll get a better return on your new product investment.

3) You’ll feel more confident that your company is spending time and resources on the right products.

4) You’ll be able to make informed decisions about which concepts to take to market, at what price points, and how to position them.

5) You’ll get diagnostic information so the products can be revised and enhanced to improve their appeal.

6) You can make sure that the product is superior to competitive products already on the market – product superiority is the single most important new product success factor.

7) You’ll find out what the consumer thinks are the most important most compelling product claims and benefits.

8) Sell-in will be easier because you can prove to your retail customers that you’ve done your homework and proven the viability of the concept.

If product concept testing is not something your company does systematically as part of the new product development process, it should be.

I’d like to hear from you.  What is your experience with product concept testing?  How important is it to you to get consumer feedback on your new product concepts?

A.J. Riedel

For over 22 years, A.J. has been helping housewares manufacturers, industrial design firms, inventors, and industry trade associations make informed product and marketing decisions by providing them with consumer data and insight.  She has consulted for a wide range of housewares companies including Cuisinart, Jarden, World Kitchen, Newell Rubbermaid, Progressive International, and Chef’N as well as the International Housewares Manufacturers Association (IHA) and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

A.J. conducts much of her research with her proprietary HomeTrend Influentials Panel (HIP), a carefully selected group of 200 trend-setting, trend-spreading consumers who participate in online surveys, in-home interviews, home-use tests, and focus groups. Because they pick up on new home-related trends and embrace new home goods much sooner than the rest of the U.S. population, HomeTrend Influentials are the bellwether for predicting how well new products are going to do with the mainstream American population.

She can be contacted at (602) 840-4948;;

How To Make Sure New Products Don’t Fail

Post first published 11/20/12 in the “MENG Blend” on the Marketing Executives Networking Group website –  The destination site for leading marketing executives looking to stay ahead of the curve.  We have more than 1800 of the leading marketing minds in the world eager to meet, communicate, help and share our expertise.

Improving Your New Product Success Rate

How can you make sure your new product idea doesn’t fail?  The answer is: do your upfront homework to fundamentally understand how your consumer/customer thinks/feels/uses your products, not just what they say or tell you in person.  The marketplace “wasteland” is literally littered with failed new products because companies didn’t do the right homework/research and/or took short cuts because they thought “we know what the consumers/customers wants better they do”. As most general managers know, alot of new products fail in year one of their launch.  According to Schneider Associates and other leading marketing professionals, nearly 3/4 of consumer products launches fail to achieve to $7.5MM in sales; and only 3% of launches achieve ~$50MM of “critical mass” and/or distribution.  The main reason seems to be most consumers tend to buy the same 150 items, which can constitute as much as 85% of household needs; thus it’s hard to get something new on the radar – according to Jack Trout – formerly of Trout & Ries. Doing the right kind of homework/research can dramatically improve your chances of new product success.  However, not everyone agrees research is the right answer.  Much has been written about the late Steve Jobs of Apple not believing in marketing research.  In Mr. Job’s obituary on the New York Times Web site, John Markoff quoted his aversion to market research this way: “It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”  In other words, while Mr. Jobs tried to understand how technology could solve problems for his consumers, he wasn’t going to rely on them to demand specific solutions, just so he could avoid ever having to take a risk.  He referred to this as “leading”. I agree with Mr. Jobs to a point.  Research never really can “lead the way” to success – it never has.  Only creativity, ingenuity, enabling technology and yes, intuition are the only real ways to achieve new product success.  Research really only helps sort the “wheat from the chaff” and can help point the right way and/or reduce risk.  Market research is simply a tool; it doesn’t replace – and never has – good solid thinking.

The question is how a company can encourage outside the box thinking which could result in new product success.  One way is to break-through functional “silos” is use of cross-functional teams focused on the problem(s).  Kraft Foods taught a powerful strategic planning framework that assisted in the idea generation process to many of its senior managers.  It was called STEPS – short for Situation Analysis, Tracking, Execution, Plans and Strategies.  This technique either a) assisted solving complex problems and/or b) help identify new areas of opportunities.  The concept is summarized below.

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When used effectively this framework could help identify a company’s or brand’s “strategic competitive advantage” based on marketplace differentiation and value.  You knew you had a competitive advantage if you could answer “yes” to the following: a) do we have an advantage?, b) do competitors want it?, and c) do consumers really need or desire it?  If you couldn’t answer “yes” to all three criteria you didn’t have a “SCA”.  This usually drove the next step – idea/concept brainstorming – commonly called the “fuzzy front end”.  This is where creativity, ingenuity and intuition come together to develop product concepts potentially addressing gaps in the strategic competitive advantage or “SCA”.

It starts with identifying consumer/customer, competitive and enabling technology trends for specific product categories and individual product concept opportunities.  You then move down the “funnel” using various marketing research tools to verify you’re using the right brand name along with the right product concept.  A concept needs to be specific – meaning how should it perform, what brand should be used, how does the product look, taste, smell, touch, to be substantially different vs. its competitors.  Product concept screening is the primary tool for this part of the process.  Below is a schematic of the opportunity identification/discovery “funnel” framework for the “fuzzy front end”.

Conceptual Framework

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One thing to remember – while its fine to conduct monadic concept tests to help screen winners from losers; this is usually not sufficient to determine final marketplace viability.  Concept testing only yields simple purchase intent scores and other measures, but the key issue is how the concept(s) would perform in the marketplace relative to other consumers/customers product choices.  Once you identify “good” ideas via branded product concept testing , the next step would be to test these concept(s) by placing them in simulated marketplace situation.

Finally, one must also remember not all market research methodologies are created equal.  In my experience, I’ve found there seems to be a positive relationship between deeper levels of consumer/customer understanding and higher market share/volume.  This is because a substantial difference can occur between what consumers/customers say vs. what they actually do or think in purchase decisions.  Generally, qualitative research focuses on how consumer/customers describe themselves; while quantitative research facilitates can give insights into how consumers/customers think or feel – which tends to be more predictive of actual consumer behavior.  Below is an illustrative conceptual model: 

Conceptual Framework

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Yes, quantitative research can be more expensive than qualitative.  However, I would argue the cost of bringing a bad idea to market and failing is FAR greater than doing the right research to help make the right decision in the first place.  You can actually save money via the right testing protocols.

So in summary, how does one make sure new products don’t fail or at least improve one’s chances of success?

1. Make sure your product/company is correctly aligned about your strategic competitive advantage.

2. If you don’t have one form a cross-functional team (usually led by marketing) to recommend how you can identify one.

3. If a new product is needed to help obtain a SCA, use the opportunity identification/discovery funnel to help focus the team’s creative juices to develop the right concept(s) with the right brand.

4. Finally, use the right  kind of research to pinpoint the strength/weaknesses of individual concepts  and ultimately how would it perform vs. competition.

If you follow this process, you will have a better chance of not having your next new product become one of those ideas ending up in the “marketplace” wasteland and also potentially detract from your company’s valuable reputation.  Good luck.

Rick Steinbrenner Chief Marketing Officer/Principal, Brand Marketing Advisors The Global Brand Guy