4 killer elements to winning concept tests

Kelsey Sullivan

When it comes to innovation, you always have to be one step ahead (especially in today’s world).

If you work in the realm of product innovation and insights, “We need to think more disruptively” or “We need to expand our product line” or “How can we innovate faster?” are all phrases you may typically hear that lead up to the question: How can we keep our brand relevant? Of course, product innovation plays a huge role in that.

So when you’re coming up with new ideas, you want to make sure you’re getting the information you need from your concept test results to make the right decisions — like which ideas to nix and which to alter. But what feedback should carry the most weight? What areas should you pay more attention to when gathering data?

In this article, we’ll cover the four elements to focus on that will help you to start creating winning concept tests and bring your innovation to market with more confidence.

1. Nailing down the consumption context

What problem is your innovation solving for your consumer? Are there elements of it that they dislike? Or, is it something they feel they couldn’t live without?

Understanding how your consumer will respond to your potential product can make or break whether a concept moves forward in the testing process. You’re making it for them after all, right? That’s why having the right indication of consumption triggers and what your consumer responds well or poorly to is so important.

The winning concept should be one that resonates clearly with your audience and meets their needs (and/or wants). But it shouldn’t only be appealing to consumers — it should also solve a real demand.

According to Harvard Business School, 95 percent of new innovations tend to fail. Their theory behind why this number is so high is that sometimes innovators tend to launch products that sound appealing but don’t cover a real human need.

Whether your consumer reacts positively or believes your concept will offer them a solution can be determined in the early stages of testing.

So you should make sure you're investing a significant amount of time in this element of concept testing — it’s what will shape the efficacy of your concept testing process and, ultimately, the success of your final product in market.

2. Prioritizing your go-to-market strategy

Understanding how to take a product to market is also key. Will your product be the next big hit? Or does it appeal to a niche segment? And, like we covered above, can your consumers see themselves using your product?

Determining how to best line up your coming product portfolio, especially in the early stages of testing, will be extremely helpful to best prioritize your resources as you prepare your launch strategy.

Think of it as being the North Star (when combined with knowing your consumer profiles) that will help to lead you in the direction of turning tests into winning concept tests.

3. Getting a sense of growth potential early on

You’re already reducing risk by taking the time to test your ideas and avoid ending up with a product turning into a flop — so why not use this as an opportunity to gauge the volume demand as well?

Correctly estimating the volume of product you’ll actually need based on consumer demand could offer the same solution when it comes to production. The more accurate this estimate is, the more time and money you’ll save once distribution begins.

Early adopter profiling can also help you understand whether or not your idea is flying across the segment, which is critical to the success of any breakthrough and emerging product.

Concept testing tools like our own Prioritize It provide an early sense of which customer profiles or target audiences prefer your idea (and give you early indications of volume sourcing) through robust sub-group norms — certainly worth utilizing as part of the testing process to get a fuller picture!

Iterative innovation research with McDonald's

Learn how McDonald's has partnered with Zappi to build its test-and-learn approach to innovation, rather than a "test to earn a good score" approach.

4. Taking another look...

...at your best and worst ideas.

What's the point of testing if you don’t learn anything from them long-term? Think about it, with each concept test, you’re getting to know more and more about your consumer; what they enjoy, what they don’t like and what they need.

So why not compile these learnings to inform your next concept test? For example, if you’ve seen an overwhelmingly negative response to the color pink in your last test for a product's color scheme, why would you include that as an option in your next test? Use that information to present alternatives to your consumer.

The more you are able to narrow down their profile, the closer you’ll get to creating winning concept tests.

Final thoughts

Getting the full picture when testing your concepts is always a good idea; but really knowing your audience’s response, how to bring your product to market, the volume needed and learning from your tests are all elements that will provide greater insights about your consumer — especially if more time is spent fleshing them out.

Zappi Innovation Suite 🚀

Learn more about how early concept testing tools can help you create winning concept tests and uncover your next big innovations.

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