How to Test Your Product Idea Using Concept Validation Surveys

Getting early market feedback is crucial for consumer product development. While this is widely known, the different available methods can be confusing for inventors and marketers.

Few things compare with concept surveys for speed, validity (statistical power), and depth of results. The main purpose of this early-stage survey is to benchmark the appeal of a new product idea against similar alternatives that are already in the market. If the product scores higher than the alternatives, it’s a good sign of potential product viability. If not, the results will show where the concept is weak, and may suggest improvement ideas.

CAS-exerpt1

An excerpt from a new product concept survey report. The tested product’s viability metrics are compared against those of benchmark products. The study type shown is for testing the viability of new beauty products.

Various study configurations are common, but they all typically employ 200 or more respondents, are conducted through online questionnaires (which significantly improves speed and cost).

Respondent recruiting is an important issue, and targeting criteria will depend on the purpose and stage of the survey. A “mass-market” sample (which is representative of the general adult population) can help identify the product’s target market by reporting which segments have the greatest interest in buying the product.

demo-response1

Example demographic response to a new invention idea, used to help identify the target market.

If the target market is already determined, the survey sample can be recruited from that specific population (for example, “US women age 18 to 24”, or “dog owners age 50+ in Florida”). From that population, different product variations (“concepts”) can tested to determine which has the best sales metrics.

geographic

The purchase intent for a new product is displayed by region, indicating where the best region to launch the product may be.

Some early-stage developers choose to conduct their own informal surveys, which can help determine consumer preference or critical product flaws. Professional research can be a worthwhile investment because do-it-yourself surveys may not pass the Investor Test. If you conduct your own surveys, be sure to address these important issues:

  • Questionnaire design: it’s easy to write questions that are confusing, leading (causing bias), or can be interpreted in several ways. The manner and order in which you ask questions can also significantly affect the responses.
  • Benchmarking: if you learn 50% of respondents “like” your product, is that good or bad? Without a database of other results, or running benchmarking surveys, the results are¬†inconclusive.
  • Sampling: finding respondents who represent your target market is always a challenge.

CO-exerpt

An excerpt from a new product concept selection survey. The results for one concept variation are shown, which would be compared to other variations also tested.

Published by

Alex Frakking

Alex applies lean product development principles to help product developers test, refine, and market their consumer products. He writes about concept validation and optimization, simulated test marketing, and product distribution strategy.