Product Testing

How to Create a Product Concept Test


Every product you use today first started off as just an unproven idea. If you want the best chance of turning your idea into a profitable product, you can use market research to test and refine it. Concept testing is one way to accomplish this.

Concept tests look for early points of product weakness and market failure that can be fixed pre-launch. The core problem that concept tests target is addressed in the following list of must “identify” items:

  • Identify the effectiveness of individual concept assets
  • Identify the barriers to achieving the concept’s full potential
  • Identify consumer relationships with the concept
  • Identify the status of the concept in a competitive context
  • Identify failure of advertising to communicate clearly
  • Identify failure through unmemorable product personality
  • Identify failure through consumer’s lack of value perceptions
  • Identify the brand equity assets
  • Identify potential consistencies in brand image and consumer perceptions
  • Identify potential inconsistencies in brand image and consumer perceptions
  • Identify unrecognized product benefits
  • Identify failures of the brand to integrate into the consumer’s lifestyle
  • Identify an elusive brand/concept personality

Survey Components for a Basic New Product Concept Survey

Concept tests are easily constructed once the researcher is aware of the key components to be included in the test instrument. Of course, these components will vary with the purpose of the concept study.

In building a concept test survey, the researcher should carefully consider the objectives of the concept test and then determine if the measures used will successfully answer the objective-related questions. Pre-test the instrument by reviewing the purpose and results, and then make sure that the study purpose is answered with exactness.

The major components of a concept test include:

  • Overall Concept Reaction Measurement
  • Concept need / relative improvement over current method of doing things
  • Overall reaction to the concept (acceptability, desirability, interest)
  • Likelihood of purchase of concept

Detailed Concept Analysis Evaluation

  • Likes and dislikes about the concept
  • Attribute list evaluation
  • Awareness of competing products
  • Awareness of substitute and complementing products
  • Superiority over other existing products

Use Situation Evaluation

  • Likelihood of use in specified situations
  • Current use of similar / competing products
  • Frequency of product use

Value Analysis

  • Estimate product value
  • Price sensitivity analysis
  • Preferred method of purchase

Segmentation Analysis

  • Market segments most likely to use (order and prioritize)


Flow of a Typical Concept Test

The flow of your concept test survey is an important part of ensuring respondents understand and buy into the survey they are taking. Here is a suggested flow, though your survey flow may require some customization pending your objectives.

  1. Introduce your survey and qualify respondents
  2. Measure awareness of product brands
  3. Measure brands purchased (within the product class) in past three months
  4. Introduce concept descriptions with measures of likelihood of purchase
  5. Identify purchase dimensions: number of bottles, frequency of purchase
  6. What is the perceived value of the product concept
  7. Innovativeness of concept measure
  8. Affective evaluation: like-dislike measure
  9. Measure the concept’s power to replace the current brand purchased
  10. Frequency of consumption in a day
  11. Believability of concept
  12. Relevance of concept to the respondent
  13. Attribute and benefit evaluations:
    1. Is a good value for the money
    2. Would help me to….(do something more easily or better)
    3. Would benefit me… (tastes good or is something I would consume everyday)
    4. Has attractive packaging
    5. Would improve my health
  14. Source of purchase (location)
  15. Demographics

Concept testing is a great money-saving technique because there’s little that wastes more money than launching a faulty concept. Concept testing research alone is enough to justify the cost of most market research programs.

Learn more about segmentation analysis