Why Your 2021 Brand and Product Strategy Should Include Concept Testing

By Chris Hubble, CEO at Bastion db5

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, and folks didn’t know exactly how bad things would get or for how long. There’s no way we could have known that a handful of obscure tech firms whose products helped people work and play from home would be the best 2020 sales revenue growth and stock market performers. The COVID-19 pandemic pulled these firms out of the shadows and into the spotlight while plunging others like airlines, cruise companies, casinos, hotels, and restaurants into darkness.

As the pandemic persisted, those who really did their research and were willing to dig into some up-and-coming behaviors with products everyone would want while on lockdown saw the benefits. This strategy of well-researched product and service launches is one to consider for the coming years, even as “normal” begins to resurface. Concept testing, whether it’s for early ideas or for alpha and beta testing of new products and devices, can help companies avoid expensive failures and maximize new revenue streams. Good concept testing will help clients determine product adaptability, target audience, target messaging, and provide other key insights.

What is concept testing?

Concept testing is the process of using surveys and sometimes qualitative methods to evaluate consumer acceptance of a new product idea prior to introduction in the market. Concept testing can be done affordably at any stage during product development if the idea is developed to a point where its benefits can be communicated to target consumers to assess their reactions. To maximize opportunity, concept testing is a quality check best taken anywhere between the description of an idea (pre-investment assessing the opportunity) and the actual product production.

Benefits of concept testing

Concept testing should be a must-have for 2021. There are a plethora of benefits, and in this tumultuous market, the small investment to get thorough concept testing could save brands a significant amount of money in the long run. Here are some of the many attributes of concept testing:

Helps define your target audience – Unless you know who to target, you can’t create an effective product launch strategy. Defining your target audience helps create personalized marketing personas and allows brands to identify their target, what their pain points are, what solutions they need, where they are found and how they like to buy. You can also discover a lot about your prospects by surveying your existing customers. Consider sending questionnaires to your customer base via email or website pop-ups. You might need to offer some incentive for participation, but their answers will be invaluable for your buyer persona research.

More affordable than soft-launching – Soft launching is all about offering a beta version of your product to select customers, but it can be expensive to provide a product and put distribution and marketing in place. Concept testing can give you the confidence to go to market by helping identify major bugs or issues in the product before launch, testing acceptability, and enabling you to make new customers happy and avoid bad reviews.

Better prepared for marketing – Simply creating a product is not enough—you need to create buzz. This means you need to build a marketing plan that covers everything from generating hype about your product to converting prospects and retaining customers. Concept testing reveals what motivates your customers to make a purchase as well as their media habits and messaging preferences.

Once you’ve collected all the necessary information from your concept testing, compile it together to build your buyer personas, develop a marketing strategy and make any product adjustments needed before heading to market.

Product innovation from concept testing feedback

Product innovation is all about providing a new way to solve a problem experienced by a significant number of consumers. It helps you address and capitalize on gaps in the current market so that you can satisfy consumer needs in a way that is new and refreshing. Concept testing will help you know if you’re hitting the mark with an innovative solution or need to adjust. If the feedback is positive, your brand can move forward with confidence. If the feedback is mixed or negative, you know that the product needs a bit more work before launch.

A cool concept

Launching a product is both exciting and challenging. Concept testing can provide insights into the product itself as well as identify your target audience, deliver comprehensive competitive market analysis, inform messaging that promotes the product benefits as well as a marketing strategy. Sometimes with a bit of creativity, you can pull in a broad audience by focusing on a narrow one. So, whether you’re launching a new season of a TV show or the latest iteration of a tech device, use concept testing to learn about what makes fans passionate about your product, and ways you can innovate and stoke that passion. If you get it right, you’ll turn those customers into your most successful brand ambassadors.

Chris Hubble serves as CEO of market research and consumer insights agency Bastion db5. Before founding db5 in 2009, Chris served as Chief Executive Officer at Hall & Partners USA. Chris has 30+ years of experience in consumer insights with particular expertise in new product development, brand strategy, brand communications, and customer experience. He’s worked with over 50% of Fortune 500 clients. Bastion db5 has done work for Yahoo!, Verizon Media, and BuzzFeed.