Concept testing methods and examples for launch success

October 17, 2023

Concept testing is the closest thing to a crystal ball when it comes to planning a new project. Concept tests tell you what clients and prospects think about something that’s still at the ‘concept’ stage. Using the right concept testing methods helps keep your focus on projects that are of most value to your clients and most lucrative for you.


What is concept testing?

The idea behind concept testing is simple – ask your clients and prospects what they think of your latest great idea before you invest in its development. Of course, this can be a product or service. But you can also test an ad campaign concept, or new messaging impact. 

Concept testing can either ask respondents about one idea, or compare different concepts. Early feedback means that you can design a product, service or other offering to the exact specifications of your target market. You can eliminate design mistakes and avoid investing in something your clients aren’t interested in buying – or don’t consider valuable enough for the price point. 


What are the benefits of concept testing? 

Ultimately, using concept testing research insights leads to the creation of a perfect product market fit and successful launch. Breaking this down into specific benefits:


Get everyone on board

Positive feedback from concept testing has the power to persuade the rest of your company about the veracity of your idea. It’s hard to argue with data that proves people already have an appetite for it. 


Mistakes always cost

Whenever there’s a mistake at any part of the development process, it costs time and resources. Concept tests help you avoid lots of the common mistakes, like messaging that doesn’t quite hit the mark, or packaging that fails to draw the attention of the right audience. But it also helps you avoid the biggest mistake – releasing something that no one wants to buy. 


Snowballing positivity

By aligning your offering with its intended buyer before launch, you’re building in success from the start. This is the foundation for all those other marvelous things – profitability, stability, growth. The ripple effects of a good company reputation saves you money by improving staff retention and reducing the amount of bad publicity you need to counter. Decreased recruitment costs and positive word-of-mouth all start with listening to your clients at an idea’s inception. 


Competitive advantage

Are all your competitors using concept testing? Unlikely. You’re ahead just because you’ve got insights from these research tools. 


Concept testing methods 

There are 4 main methods of concept testing. Each one involves asking respondents the same set of questions, or presenting the concepts in the same way. 


Comparison testing

A comparison test presents respondents with at least 2 concepts to compare. Questions are usually intended to generate either ratings for the concepts against each other, or an overall ‘best’ option. This is simple and quick to both complete and understand – giving you clear statistics to work with. But it does not ask the crucial ‘why’ question about the respondents’ decisions, leaving conclusions lacking in contextual understanding. 


Monadic testing

Respondents involved in split-cell monadic testing are divided into several groups and only asked to consider one concept per group. A/B monadic testing is when you’ve got 2 versions of the same concept. Your respondents are split into 2 groups, one group evaluates version A and the other group only sees version B. 

Monadic tests are quick to carry out, giving the opportunity to ask follow up questions to dig into interesting details. Focusing on a single concept does provide a more rounded understanding of clients’ and prospects’ thoughts. But it can take longer to complete this kind of concept testing as it requires a larger pool of respondents overall. 


Sequential monadic testing 

This is similar to monadic testing, in that the respondents are divided into groups. The difference is that each group is asked to evaluate all the concepts, with follow-up questions. Sequential monadic testing needs fewer respondents, as everyone is seeing everything, making it a less costly and time-consuming option. But it does make the test experience for the respondents much longer. It’s important to balance the number of questions with the amount of time it takes very carefully, so as to minimize the risk of lowering the completion rate. Sometimes this does mean sacrificing the depth of those insights. 


Proto-monadic testing

Proto-monadic testing combines a sequential monadic test with a comparison test. Respondents first consider all the concepts and then choose a favorite. This is a really useful way to cross-check if the opinions expressed about each concept carry through to a final, comparative test decision. 


Concept testing survey design

Concept testing is more commonly done using a precisely designed online survey. Choosing the right methodologies and question structures are critical to getting the answers you want. The key considerations for any concept testing survey design are:

  • What do you want to know? Really pinpoint your objective.
  • What time constraints are there? 
  • Do you want to test one, or more than one, concept?
  • What will the survey look like? You need to decide what you need to include so that the purpose is completely clear to respondents. Perhaps images are appropriate, alongside some demographic questions about the participants themselves, to ensure they’re one of your buyer personas. Then there’s the wording of the questions themselves – are you going to include a Likert scale to give a little more nuance to your insights, or is a bold binary answer what you’re looking for?
  • What are you going to do with the results? Analysis of the concept tests’ insights should be considered at the outset. It helps guide deeper questioning during the testing and determines possible courses of action. 


Concept testing use cases

You can gather feedback about a variety of business critical elements using the right concept testing as part of your overall research strategy. This includes:

  • Naming: You know the importance of naming your company and products/services. Concept testing is perfect for hitting the sweet spot with your target audience. NewtonX did just that during our work with Tableau, creating a successful new product launch. 
  • Messaging: Does your messaging really connect with your target audience? What nuances make more impact with each of your buyer personas?
  • Price: How satisfied are clients with your current pricing? Do they see enough value in a new feature to pay a higher price?
  • Conversion rates: How effective are your landing pages and ad campaigns? 
  • Understanding customer voice: Why do clients make the buying decisions they do? NewtonX helped a huge tech company understand their target audiences’ motivations behind their ad spend, resulting in key adaptations to meet their clients’ dynamic needs. 

As your audiences’ opinions, perception and needs continually change, you need to embed concept testing within your wider market research strategy. What’s important to buyer personas today, may not be important in 6 months. Regular concept testing keeps you aligned to their pain points and aspirations – giving you the opportunity to pivot ahead of the competition. 


Successful concept testing with a research partner

Often the most difficult part of any market research is finding the niche experts with the answers to your questions. You have access to 1.1billion, verified professionals with the NewtonX Knowledge Graph, finding the right people at top speed.  

Crafting the right survey questions is part of our end-to-end market research service. We’ll use the right combination of research methodologies to get to the heart of your questions – including concept testing, MaxDiff analysis, Conjoint analysis and UX research. Working with an expert market research partner means that you don’t have to figure out which quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to use. You just need to have your questions ready – we’ll create a bespoke research strategy comprising the perfect combination of research insights to inform your business critical decisions. 

Looking for a research partner? Get a quote today.


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