Concept testing is an approach to product evaluation that involves the use of various qualitative methods along with quantitative methods to assess the anticipated response of consumers to a new product. The idea is to get a concept of how consumers will react to the introduction of the product gathering information before the final design and actual product launch. Data that is collected as a result of concept testing helps to improve the chances of the new product capturing the attention of consumers quickly and thus becoming profitable in a shorter period of time.
There are a number of different strategies used to manage the process of concept testing. One of the more popular approaches is to make use of focus groups. With this model, a business will gather a group of individuals who share some common characteristics, including their expectations for a specific type of product. Using focus groups, it is possible to get feedback on how well the prototype for the product actually performs. The data collected helps to identify the strengths of the product, as perceived by the members of the focus group. At the same time, group members also identify aspects of the product that are not particularly appealing, or that they believe could be improved upon and thus enhance the desirability of the product.
Conducting personal interviews with consumers is another approach to concept testing that is often utilized. Businesses sometimes make use of this model by interviewing existing clientele in anticipation of developing a new good or service. Here, the idea is to get feedback from people who already have an established relationship with the company, and identify how that relationship can be strengthened by the offering of new products that the customer would find useful. For example, a grocery chain may interview customers and find that the addition of an olive bar in the deli section would generate more business with a significant number of existing customers, thus increasing the profits earned at certain locations.
Field surveys are also a common tool in concept testing. With these, the idea is usually to capture data from a broader group of consumers. Often, the field surveys provide ample opportunity for consumers to offer ideas for products they would like to see on the market, how they would like those products to function, and the price range they would be willing to pay for those products. Data of this type can often lead to the development of new product lines that can then be tested in focus groups and personal interviews. It can then be determined if there is indeed a sizable enough demand to justify the costs of production.
Businesses of all sizes can make use of concept testing. Small retailers may use this approach to determine what products to carry, or even how to arrange the display of the products to best effect. Large corporations can make use of concept testing to save a great deal of time and money in their research and development efforts, since the testing helps to provide direction for the creation of new products.