Concept testing is an early stage of product development during which the appeal of the underlying concept of the product/service being developed is tested.
The approach taken to measuring this appeal is very much dependent on the nature of the product and the innovations it offers.
It is essential to make sure that the concept being tested is communicated clearly and, where possible, should be presented in as close to the form it would be experienced in as possible. This often involves the creation of mock-ups of the product and simulated interactions with it.
Simple direct questioning may then be used to evaluate the appeal of the concept and to identify the main attributes that drive this appeal. Alternatively, MaxDiff studies, conjoint exercises and similar statistical methods can be used to calculate the implicit appeal of each attribute instead.
In some cases, multiple competing concepts may be under consideration and the research may serve to help decide which of these concepts to take forward and develop into actual products and services. In these cases, the traditional approach is to use monadic testing, testing only one concept with each respondent.
Alternative approaches include:
- Sequential monadic – Testing each concept one after the other in a random order
- Comparative – Comparing concepts directly
- Proto-monadic – A sequential exercise followed by a comparative exercise
Concept testing can also be paired with market assessment or market entry studies to provide a full picture of the challenges that would need to be overcome. This makes it easier to judge if the appeal of the product and the potential profits it could generate justify the investment that would be needed and the risks that would be taken on.
The specific methodologies used for concept testing can vary greatly. Here are some examples of how a concept testing study might be conducted: