Product testing

Product tests can take many different forms but they have one common theme; they are a way to trial your product with a sample of consumers.

The key considerations of a product test are:

The sample

·         Individual or whole family – for some products you may want the opinions of the whole family, for example including children, rather than an individual adult

·         Just existing customers or are you looking to obtain new customers; and are these in a particular demographic group or among those who currently consume a particular product

How many products you share with customers

You can…

·         test more than one new recipe and / or

·         test a new recipe against the current recipe and / or

·         test a new recipe against a competitor(s). 

However, whatever your needs, we need to consider how many different products a person can reasonably trial on one day or over a period of time.  It can differ based on the nature of the product, the amount of difference between recipes and other factors but we tend to test between 3-5 products in most of our product tests.

How the product is shared with the consumers

·         Some products can be trialled ‘on the spot’ and on these occasions we recommend a hall test, where people are recruited on the street and invited into a hall, be it a church hall, hotel conference room, or whatever.  The advantages of this are twofold; the immediacy of the trial and also clients can visit and see / hear people trialling their products.  Also, we can take selected respondents and interview them in more depth if there are additional issues that clients would like us to investigate.  We can undertake simple food preparation in hall, such as toasting, and heating - moreover, we are experienced in dealing with ambient, chilled, fresh and frozen foods.

·         Other products need to be trialled in peoples’ own homes; these are products that are consumed at specific times of the day or need more preparation.  This can also useful if you need the whole family to trial or if you need a trial to take place over a number of days to understand, for example, the issue of freshness.  For such a test we place or post products with relevant people and re-contact them after the trial.  Re-contacts can take place face-to-face or, in order to contain costs, by telephone or online.  We will always leave a diary with the respondent so they keep a record of what they are trying and what they think.

The questions you ask

·         Do not ask too much.  You may have spent weeks or months perfecting your recipes but you cannot expect members of the public to articulate very modest recipe refinements. 

·         In an average survey, we would expect the post-trial questions to last no more than 10-15 minutes before peoples’ attention begins to wane.

Although we do not wish to force clients into a template, there are some questions we would always expect to see; these will cover preparation and serving experience (including occasionality and who consumed), product likes and dislikes, fit with expectation and propensity to purchase.  Moreover, elsewhere on the site we discuss a simple technique called 60:40 which is integral to understanding purchasing propensity.