Concept testing


After the new product idea passes the screening stage, it is subjected to ‘concept testing’. ‘Concept testing’ is different from market test / test marketing, which takes place at a later stage. What is tested at this stage is the ‘product concept’ itself — whether the prospective consumers understand the product idea, whether they are receptive towards the idea , whether they actually need such a product and whether they will try out such a product if it is made available to them.

In fact, in addition to the specific advantage of getting the consumers’ response to the product idea, this exercise incidentally helps the company bring the product concept into clearer focus. In the absence of real products to be shown to the respondents as this stage, the company has to naturally make elaborate and definite statements bout the ‘would-be product’ its attributes and benefits.

This exercise helps the firm to thrash out much of the vagueness associated with the new product idea. And, it is a great benefit to the firm that all vagueness is thrashed out right at the concept testing stage.

Quantitative techniques like conjoint measurement and trade-off analysis are used for testing alternative product concepts. These techniques help ascertain the consumer perception of the product along certain important attribute dimensions.

Concept testing is of special importance when a totally new product — in contrast to a ‘me too’ product — is being planned for introduction.

Quality gates to screen and pass product ideas

While working on product on product concepts, some firms ensure that the product ideas pass through ‘quality gates’ also called phase gates. Quality gates are a screening and reworking point beyond which product ideas cannot pass until they are upgraded at the minimum to the gating quality already fixed. They are thus checkpoints of product quality.

A quality gate in concept development stage can reduce the losses normally associated with new product development substantially. It can reduce the need for mid-course correction, thereby saving time and resources.

Early quality gates and test-upgrades ensure more stable design, which in turn ensure a reduction in manufacturing downtime. And this can eventually ensure faster market entry, which by itself can lead to premium pricing and higher market share.