The international currency of business is ideas. They don’t have to be novel to be valuable – some of the most successful businesses are ones built on the idea of providing a product that’s better or cheaper than the competition, not entirely new.
That idea needs to be good though – if you invest resources in an idea and it can’t repay them by finding success in the market, you’ve wasted that investment and potentially left yourself financially overstretched and damaged your reputation. Whether the idea you’re looking at is for your first new business, or for the next product you offer customers from your existing, what you need to look at is concept testing it, to ensure it has the value and the potential to succeed that you think it does.
What is Concept Testing?
Concept testing is a form of market research which seeks to find out if customers understand and accept the very basics of the idea underlying your product, service, or business.
It’s not related to testing your advertising and branding, which is more about the success with which you can present those ideas to the public. The purpose of concept testing is simply to find out if the market at large understands what your product-concept is, and sees a need for it in their lives.
Consider as an example, an anti-virus software. Before it was worth developing and marketing anti-virus software for a general market, people needed to understand the threat computer viruses could pose to their security, and that solutions were possible. Before the public were computer literate enough to see a need for anti-virus product, any business founded on them would fail.
Effective Concept Testing
To get good results, you need high quality surveys. A badly put together survey risks contaminating your sample of the public by overexplaining the product, or posing confusing questions that people can’t answer clearly, even if they do grasp the fundamentals of the concept, which would waste the resources invested in the research.
For good results, partner up with a market research firm that specialises in business or product development. They have the knowledge and experience to get you data that you can build on with confidence. As a bonus, they don’t simply return to you raw data: they do the hard work of interpreting it into actionable insights that you can use to drive success as you develop new products and business ideas.