Product tests are designed to evaluate and diagnose product performance.
Product testing is typically performed (1) after concept screening or testing has identified a winning idea; (2) after a product development phase, in which R&D, sensory tests, or employee panels have identified a new product candidate; (3) at any point to assess consumer reactions to product variations (e.g., cost-reduced, improved performance, etc.); or (4) for competitive claims purposes.
The stimuli used in product testing varies widely, depending on the type of test and the number of product variations under consideration. Stimuli can range from conceptual product mock-ups (which are not handled) to fully functional, branded products that are evaluated in a real-world setting. To assess “pure performance”, products are exposed without extensive packaging graphics, branding, pricing, or other identifying information. If branding needs to be assessed (concept-product fit test), then branded information is included. Usage, preparation, or safety instructions (if needed) are also provided.
There are two basic types of product tests: monadic tests, and comparison tests. In monadic tests, the respondent is presented with one product, much like a consumer would be in the real world. Conversely, comparison tests involve evaluating two (or more) products in either a head-to-head or sequential fashion, and are often used as screening studies.
For more information on product testing, download our free section, from the Pocket Guide to Basic Marketing Research Tools, here.