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Why concept testing surveys?

When you have a new idea or concept you wish to launch, you can save a large amount of money by eliminating bad concepts early on using concept test surveys (or sometimes conjoint analysis). Concept test surveys have been used for decades to improve the odds of success.

Monadic (single product) tests work best for forecasting; and further these tests work best as part of an established concept testing system – not as once-offs – to enable reliable interpretation of the results, which is why DIY concept testing is very risky.

By placing your idea (anonymously) in front of a representative group of consumers (using a survey not a focus group) and measuring consumer reaction on a specific set of measures, you can get an indication as to whether or not you should launch as is, refine or abandon. While on the surface this seems logical, there are problems to watch out for.

Avoid the concept-test interpretation traps

A trap many fall into, is that they compare the new product-concept scores to the same scores for existing products and services. The problem is that new concepts tend to get higher scores on certain questions, which only then drop later as familiarity grows. The risk is that you then reach the false conclusion that your concept is better than the alternatives. That’s why it is best to use a professional marketing researcher who specialises in concept test. They will be able to compare your new concept scores to normative databases of previous new concept tests conducted using the same system.

Another trap many fall into, is that they interpret the ratings for each question in the same way. However the range of likely scores differs depending on the question. A professional marketing researcher who specialises in concept test will be able to compare your new concept scores to previous new concept tests conducted using their standard system.

Lastly, purchase intention overclaim can lead to misleading conclusions. Each product category has different overclaim factors; as do different cultures.

  • Acentric’s Express Test concept testing system solves all three problems. Your scores are compared to a database of previous tests and purchase intentions are adjusted using a statistical model to eliminate overclaim.

What types of products and services can it be used on?

Acentric Express Test is useful for testing mass-market products and service concepts. If you are targeting a niche market, then other methodologies should be used.

What concept testing is and what it is not

Traditionally concept test surveys referred to surveys testing product or service concepts, but some have broadened this to include ad testing, package testing, website testing and logo testing. This is unfortunate. Ideally product and service concepts should be distinguished from the communication of those concepts, as gaps between product concepts and how they are in fact communicated is often of interest.

Concept tests & marketing mix

Besides product, Acentric Express Test also (optionally) provides information on the remaining three element of the marketing mix: price, communication and distribution. Which of your product features are key to sales? Which might be improved? Is something confusing in the message? The acceptable price range? Which distribution channels will reap the greatest return? Which demographic groups are most interested? 



Express Test is a survey with a standard core of questions, yet is adaptable enough to suite every market and product/service type. New concepts can be one of any one of the following types:

1.) Improvements aimed at existing markets.

2.) ‘New to the world’ products that will create entirely new markets (discontinuous).

Key benefits Acentric’s Concept Test system

  • Know how your new product/service concept performs against competitor benchmarks for uniqueness, relevance, clarity, believeability, preference, liking, affordability and value.
  • Learn what features are key to sales.
  • Determine whether the main message is getting through – clarity.
  • Determine what improvements/refinements consumers want before they will buy (in their own words).
  • Determine: what the acceptable price range is, and whether the specific price point you had in mind is perceived as both affordable and value for money.
  • Determine if the brand name is the right fit for the new concept.
  • Determine which distribution channels will yield the best return.
  • Identify which demographics are most interested. Age, gender, ethnic group and income group.

Volumetric forecasts

Optionally, ballpark sales forecasts can also be provided. While not as accurate as pre-test market model or test market forecasts, these forecasts can provide an indication of achievable sales volumes based on the concept test results and marketing plan inputs.

What if I don’t have a concept?

All you need is a brief description – a few sentences, or at least something you can point to on the market already. Concept profiles will written and created for you, ready for inclusion on the Express Test survey.