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Testing, Testing ... 1, 2, 3

By: Alisa Marie Beyer
Posted: March 8, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 2 of 3

Additionally, when writing your concepts, be aware that overwriting won’t necessarily bring about the desired results and could even potentially alienate test participants, and/or sway test results. Some things to watch out for include:

  • Writing a product concept story that is too complicated = they feel stupid.
  • Writing a product concept story that is too easy or boring = they check out.
  • Writing a product concept story that is too long = they stop reading.

Keep product concepts clear and concise; engage consumers with witty, sharp copy that is similar to current, in-market verbiage found on competing products, and make sure information flows consistently. This will help you develop winning concepts to test, which will then help you gain feedback you can use.

Share Your Vision

In addition to the right words, a successful product concept test should include images to contextualize this new idea. Rather than spending lots of time, money and effort on fully designed brand or packaging images, use one simple, central image in each concept that reflects the overall idea of your product, is easy to identify and understand, and that doesn’t complicate the text. For example, if you are testing an idea for a new shampoo technology, don’t bother designing an entire ad campaign with fancy bottles, elaborate fonts and editorial images. Instead, simply feature a basic image of a generic shampoo bottle (and box, if necessary), along with the potential product name you are using for the test. It may seem counterintuitive to use a mundane image but the truth is, it doesn’t matter what consumers think of the bottle image at this point. Your true intent is to glean what they think of your potential product idea and your concepts. Once you have their permission to move forward with the actual concept—and you know they believe all the benefits, technology and core promises—then you can move onto the more exciting ad imagery and design, and not the other way around.

Although the image used should be the same for each concept, there is room for some creativity. Experiment with different color schemes, and you could even go so far as to include a few very simple design elements that give each image a unique spin. And don’t underestimate the importance of naming each of your potential new products appropriately. It may seem innocuous, but names that too closely resemble existing products, that are simply too outlandish or just don’t fit the personality of the concept you are testing can sway your results. Ponder names carefully and conduct a quick Google search of your final options to be sure you aren’t brushing up against any existing products.

Once you’ve written your concepts and created the images you want to accompany them, now the fun begins—fielding the actual product concept test and gathering consumer feedback. Did participants love one reason to believe over another? Were certain benefits more appealing than others? Did they believe in the technology and the core promises, or not so much? And, perhaps most importantly, did they believe in the actual idea, and will they buy this product when it hits the shelf?