In 2006, Microsoft launched a product to compete with Apple’s iPod called the Zune. I don’t blame you if you don’t remember the Microsoft Zune. Zune managed to get less than his 10% market share of MP3 players, and Microsoft discontinued it in his 2012.
Admittedly, product innovation doesn’t always fail. However, the success rate is disastrously low. Only 60% of brand new consumer packaged goods survive two years on the shelf. Technology and healthcare innovations share similar success rates.
What’s the difference between a product miss and a hit? Often the answer lies in market research. Concept testing and message testing can provide important insights before a product is launched. Successfully executing these research approaches can protect your business from product failure. What’s your recipe for success? It is based on behavioral science.
Testing the concept and testing the message: a plan for a successful product launch
The product launch cycle typically includes both product development and marketing (see Figure 1). Before each of these steps, conducting market research can give you insight on how to proceed.
Prior to product development, concept testing verifies whether the product’s benefits and features resonate with customers. Testing your message before your marketing campaign will help you find out which language resonates best with your customers.
Figure 1. Example product launch cycle
Difference between concept test and message test
Understanding the difference between concepts and messages is key to designing tests for concepts and messages.Additionally, it is important to understand why Differences matter.
a concept It’s not just an idea, but it’s not the final product yet. Describe your product’s value proposition. It introduces the main benefits of the product and how it solves a specific customer problem. The concept appeals to your rationality with compelling propositions. Concept test results reveal which concepts are the most suitable for customers and why they are likely to succeed.
a message that is language It is used for product marketing rather than a representation of the product itself. With a few well-placed keywords, your message will appeal to your customers’ intuition. Message test results help you choose messages that grab your customers’ attention.
How to conduct concept and message testing
Testing concepts and messages may seem simple, but careful design is required to get insightful results.
In an ideal world, you could test concepts and messages in real-world settings. Doing so will give you confidence in your results. However, time, money, and ethics preclude studying humans in their natural environment. (Personally, I prefer scrolling through his TikTok alone over my morning coffee rather than in front of market researchers.)
Instead, do the next best thing.we design the method approximation How people think and act in certain situations. If the test can capture real human judgment, then true conclusions can be drawn from the research.Behavioral Sciences considers studies that pass this test ecologically effective.
System 1 and System 2 thinking information research design
How do we ensure ecological plausibility in testing concepts and messages? In the course of my PhD, I studied how children and adults make sense of the world around them. The work of Daniel Kahneman formed the basis of my research.in his best-selling book think fast and slow, Kahneman describes two styles of cognitive processing. intuition (system 1) and reasoning (system 2).
System 1 thinking is fast, automatic, and emotional. System 2 works when you react to a Super Bowl commercial or see an ad on TikTok. Impressions form within seconds of information being presented. System 2 thinking is slow, purposeful and rational. It happens when you make a deliberate decision, such as buying a stock or choosing which college to attend.
Through the lens of System 1 and System 2 processing, you can design your concept and message tests. In doing so, we can capture how the human mind really works.
Convert cognitive processing into market research
Customers think critically when evaluating concepts. This experience somewhat mirrors my experience when making purchasing decisions. During this process, the benefits of the product and its features (“What is the quality-to-value ratio of this new anti-aging serum on the market?”) and believe They will get the promised benefits communicated in the concept (“Am I convinced by the clinical evidence of the serum’s efficacy?”). system 2 thinking.
The experience of evaluating a marketing message (for example, a company’s email signature) is an example of System 1 thinking. The message either hits the target within seconds or it doesn’t. In today’s messy media, message impressions occur at a visceral level and need to stand out in order to make an impact.
We translate these experiences into research, often conducted online. Simple design differences in the study may elicit System 1 over System 2 treatment.
The concept test begins with a highlighter task in which respondents highlight what they like and dislike about the concept. This exercise naturally induces intentional thinking and rationalization, invoking System 2 processing. Customers are given time to understand the content and then rate the concept on business-specific performance metrics (for example, would you recommend this product?). At the end of the survey, respondents choose from several concepts to purchase. The timing of the exercise is intentional. Respondents have time to rationalize and make intentional decisions based on reasons. Surveys are still short, often under 15 minutes. But the order and nature of the questions encourages slow critical thinking.
The message test should invoke System 1 processing. Respondents are asked to select from messages immediately after exposure. Following a selection task, they write what they remember from the message. These exercises encourage respondents to provide their intuitive preferences. As such, the task measures the intuitive appeal and mental availability of the message.
Today’s quality market research is grounded in scientific knowledge, especially behavioral economics. When applied to product launches, important decisions cannot be made in isolation. Challenge internal assumptions and listen to your customers. what do they want? Which language will resonate with them? Concept and message testing can answer these questions and ultimately lead to a successful product launch.
About Christina Turek
Dr. Christina Tworek is Director of Advanced Analytics at GLG and leads the team responsible for implementing quantitative methods. She holds a PhD in Psychology and has expertise in research methods, survey design and statistics.