KISS: Key Questions for Concept Testing

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choice-imageThe final topic in our Keep It Short and Simple (KISS) marketing research series, concept tests are a very common type of marketing research project. Concept tests are basically conducted to evaluate consumer response to an idea before it is introduced to the market. Drilling down, concept tests can be used to:

  • develop the original idea further or provide information to improve the idea,
  • estimate the concept’s market potential,
  • eliminate poor concepts,
  • understand the value of specific concept features, and
  • identify the optimal target audience for the concept.

While concept tests can be either qualitative or quantitative, we will limit this discussion to quantitative evaluations.

Start with a Great Concept

Before embarking on measuring customer response, though, you have to write the concept. And that is an art unto itself. A good concept statement includes:

  • The core concept (one sentence) using the preliminary product name, if possible,
  • Benefits to delivered based on the concept attributes,
  • Information about relevant extrinsic cues such as price, size, channel, and other product-related information.

Finding the right balance between providing information about the concept and selling the concept is difficult for many researchers, but the concept statement should err on the side of being factual. In addition to the concept statement, prototypes, illustrations, and mock advertisements can also be used to illustrate the concept and make it real for respondents.

Who is a User?

Another important consideration is who you want to include in your concept test. Who is a user? What other products or services do they use in addition to or instead of your potential product? What competitive products or services do they use? How frequently do they use the category, and how frequently your product? If you cannot screen the sample to identify users, you will need to make these your first survey questions, and screen out those people who do not have the usage characteristics of interest to you.

Concept Test Questions

In the interest of shorter, more impactful surveys, here are the Keep It Short and Simple essential questions for a KISS Concept Test:

  • After reading the concept, all respondents should be asked how likely they are to purchase the product or service described.
  • Next, respondents should be asked what they like and dislike about the concept. Qualitative research with the concept prior to the survey can help you design close-ended questions about likes and dislikes. However, you should consider an open-end or “other, please specify” question to make sure you capture all relevant information
  • The next question is to understand respondents’ perceptions about the value delivered for the price they would be expected to pay. Is the value proposition in balance with price?
  • Understanding how respondents believe the new concept is different/unique – and hopefully better – than the product or service they currently use is also important. After all, if it’s not better or unique in some way, why should you switch?
  • And finally, whether respondents believe they would recommend the product to others can be a real litmus test for their perceptions of the concept. Understanding why they would or would not recommend the product can give important insight into the optimal target audience.

Being able to test concepts before market introduction is not a luxury; it’s good business. But many, many organizations forego this simple step because it is “too expensive” or they believe they “know what the customer wants.” Shorter surveys reduce the overall cost and time needed for concept tests, which may make them more palatable to management.

Making surveys shorter will give you better data, and happier respondents. So, KISS! Keep it short and simple for better survey results. 

Check out the other Infosurv Research KISS essential marketing research questions here:

KISS:  Key Questions for Customer Satisfaction

KISS:  Key Questions for Employee Engagement

KISS:  Key Questions for Awareness, Attitudes & Usage (AAU)


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Lenni Moore

Lenni Moore is the Director of Operations at Infosurv. She’s always been passionate about fostering strong professional relationships. It’s precisely these relationships that allow her to exceed her clients’ expectations because she knows exactly what they want and then leverages her experience to get it for them.