Product testing is used to evaluate and diagnose product performance with the help of consumers. The product testing process studies and analyzes the reactions of potential consumers to the concept of the product, to the product itself, its taste, smell, appearance, name, packaging, etc.
It is carried out to identify the benefits that the product provides to the consumer and to compare the product with similar competitor products.
Based on their tasks to be solved, product testing can be resorted to at different stages of its life cycle.
Thus, product inspection and quality control is carried out to evaluate the improved properties and characteristics compared to products already on the market, an already existing product on the market – in order to determine how much the position of this product on the market has changed over a certain period of time.
Depending on whether the subject of research is a new product or an existing one on the market, there are two types of marketing tasks:
- assessment of the competitive environment;
- Estimation of the amount of risk when launching a new product on the market”.
Product Inspection and Quality Control
For a product that already exists on the market, the main marketing task, solved by testing, comes down to assessing the competitive environment.
Such data make it possible to make an overall assessment of a particular brand, i.e. to determine at what stage of its life cycle the brand is, its positive and negative aspects.
The data obtained through testing reflects: brand image; how consumers feel about it; how it is distinguished from other similar brands; what needs to be done so that the brand is better perceived by consumers.
A competitive assessment study is conducted regularly at regular intervals, usually once a year. Research of this kind is of great importance in the conditions of the appearance of a new product of competitors on the market.
Testing allows you to evaluate changes in consumer preferences, the competitive environment, highlight the leading brand in the market, and compare products.
For a new or improved product, the main marketing task is to assess the amount of risk associated with the promotion of this product on the market.
The amount of risk is primarily determined by two parameters: the scale of losses in the case of an incorrect product promotion policy and the possible amount of profit, subject to the correct policy.
New product qualities make it more attractive to users and provide an opportunity to expand the circle of consumers by attracting those who use competitors’ products.
In this context, it is important to know the opinions of users of a given brand and users of competitors’ brands. Testing provides the necessary data to develop a strategy for promoting a new product, so it is carried out every time before launching a new product on the market.
Main Goals of Product Testing:
- identifying the advantages and disadvantages of the product;
- assessment of the achievement of the goal set for the product developers;
- definition of formulation and dosage of product components;
- assessment of consumer properties of the product in comparison with the main competitors;
- clarification of the perception of the product relative to similar products of competitors;
- choice between alternative product options;
- identification of unaccounted for problems in the use of the product and design flaws.
Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to test the product and its elements.
At the initial stage, when it is necessary to understand the processes taking place in the mind of the consumer, to study the attitude of consumers to the product itself, to determine the reasons for certain reactions to them and, most importantly, to identify the main parameters for which testing will be carried out, a series of focus groups or monitoring the process of buying a product.
The focus group will help to find out what requirements potential consumers have for the product and what characteristics they pay attention to when choosing a product in the first place.
Also, focus groups allow you to use various projective, symbolic or associative techniques in order to find out the true attitude of the respondent to the product.
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Observation with the participation of the researcher will allow you to find out what the buyer pays attention to in the first place, why he chooses a particular product.
Based on the results of the focus group or participant observation, a questionnaire is developed for conducting a quantitative study. Quantitative methods are used when the task is to test a product on large representative samples.
Product Testing Scheme
An example product testing scheme is as follows:
- product presentation;
- product sample;
- determination of intent to buy;
- overall evaluation of the product;
- determining the frequency of the intended purchase;
- study of price sensitivity;
- studying the use of the product;
- overall evaluation of the product;
- intention to repurchase;
- study of consumer preferences, position of the product among others;
- assessment of individual characteristics of the product.
Principles of Product Testing
During product testing, the following principles must be observed:
- Sampling requirements: the more samples, the larger the sample (at least 150-300 people per sample of each sample); the smaller the difference between the samples, the more people should be interviewed.
- Methods for organizing testing: Hall-test, Note-test and test in places of accumulation of potential consumers of the tested product.
The Hall test excludes the influence of such side effects as: advertising, the opinions of other buyers, which can be heard, for example, in a store or other outlets. In conditions abstracted from reality, the respondent is left alone with himself and the tested product. Thus, the goal of the test is achieved, the respondent’s attention is focused only on various aspects of the product: taste, color, structure.
The main idea of the Home test is that the respondent tries to use the tested product in his usual living conditions. The furnishing of the research participant’s home, the presence of his family, are all important factors influencing the testing process. In such conditions, all the qualities of the product are fully manifested (for example: convenience, safety of its use).
In practice, these two types are often combined, thereby obtaining the advantages of both at once. You can explore the concept of a product, packaging or product quality control management by testing in the studio. Next, you can invite the respondent to take the product home and use it at home, while it is important to arrange a follow-up meeting in order to complete the interview.
Characteristics of the target group: product testing must be carried out on the target group of consumers. Each characteristic of the target group includes a whole range of socio-demographic indicators, which are determined depending on the goals and objectives of a particular study.
The most common characteristics are: users of only one particular brand or several brands; people who make decisions in the family about the purchase of a particular product; people who shop only in the market or only in expensive stores, etc.
Methods for obtaining information: “blind” tests, when the brand of the tested product is not called to the respondent, and “open” – when the brand of the product or service is known. For food, drinks, cigarettes, the method of “blind” testing is often used, when the respondent does not know the brand of the tested product and it does not affect the opinion about the properties of the product.
Number of products tested: “evaluation” tests, when only one product is tested (Monadic Test) and “comparative” tests, when several similar products are tested. Comparative tests can be carried out in the following ways:
- sequential display of products (Sequential Monadic Test), when each respondent sequentially tries and evaluates two products;
- comparative analysis of several products (Protomonadic Test), when the products are first evaluated separately, and then the respondent is asked to compare them with each other;
- Paired Comparison test, when the respondent tries two products and determines which product is better;
- Test of repeated paired comparisons (Repeated Pairs), when the respondent first compares two products in pairs, then this procedure is repeated, however, during repeated testing, the same products are presented as two other products.
On the subject of testing, the following types of research can be distinguished:
- testing of the product name;
- testing of product packaging;
- testing the taste and smell of the product.
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