What is the goal of concept testing?
Concept testing is the process of evaluating likely customer response to a product idea prior to its introduction into the market. Seen through a jobs-to-be-done lens, the goal of concept testing is to validate that a product concept is better than competing solutions at helping customers get a job done. To make this determination, we must know what metrics the customers use to measure the successful execution of the job-to-be-done. Our methods for concept testing work because they are built around these customer metrics. It is the only concept testing method to use this approach and is an integral step in our innovation process, Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI).
Myths that mislead
Conjoint analysis, choice modeling, and other concept testing techniques ask customers to make trade-offs between product features or attributes, often in relation to price. They assume that the goal of concept testing is to reveal the most desirable feature set. This thinking is the cause of many problems and is the myth that misleads. Concept testing is the process of validating that a concept (that has already been conceived) is significantly better at helping customers get a job done. It is not the process of creating the concept: that is ideation. Conjoint analysis and other methods attempt to do both, but they are not effective at either.
Why traditional concept testing methods don’t work
To validate that a product concept is better than competing solutions, companies must know what metrics its customers use to measure the successful execution of the job-to-be-done. In addition, they must find out how customers evaluate the new concept, using these metrics. Most concept testing methods are not designed to make these determinations. They don’t even include these metrics in the evaluation. Instead, the concept test involves asking customers to make a series of trade-offs between a small number of features or other attributes to reveal the relative importance of the concept’s component attributes.
This thinking is fraught with risk. One risk is that the features being ranked do not address the customers’ top unmet needs. If that’s the case, the test will reveal the winning feature set, but those winning features will still fail to to help customers get the job done better, and customers will not value the product or service. Another risk is that the customer will fail to make the connection between their unmet needs and the features being tested, leading to highly inaccurate results. In either case, bad investment decisions will result.
Concept testing that delivers
We have discovered that customers use between 50 and 150 metrics (desired outcomes) to evaluate how well a product helps them get a job done. These metrics are the customers’ needs. In addition, they use numerous other metrics to evaluate the execution of the related consumption chain jobs, which include acquiring, setting up, learning to use, interfacing with, maintaining, repairing, and replacing the product. Traditional concept testing methods do not provide a qualitative means for capturing these metrics or a quantitative means for ascertaining their relative importance. Our approach does both. Without these insights, accurate concept testing results cannot be achieved.
Well before concept testing, we use these same metrics to determine which customer needs are unmet and construct the solution that best addresses them. As a result, concept testing becomes a much simpler task because it requires only that we validate with customers that the proposed solution addresses the unmet needs (customer metrics) as well as we had envisioned. This is a test we are almost certain to pass because our concept has already been designed to be the product or service the customers want. Learn more about our growth strategy consulting services.