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Good Research Question: What do you see as the benefits or drawbacks of the concept? Does this concept have a place in your [life/ business]?

Elevate your research with Concept Testing and discover what your users REALLY want.

Concept testing is a helpful way to get insights in the early-stage of market research of product development. This is done by asking your participants to use their imagination on how they might use a product. You can use various research methods including interviews where you walk your participant through a series of guided questions around a specific concept. 

When participants use their imagination to picture their lives with your product, they start breathing life into concepts. Even if it’s just in their imagination, they start adding your product in and around their life imagining how they might use it. 

The benefits and potential drawbacks of concept testing

Asking about the benefits and drawbacks of your product encourages participants to use their imagination, because they have to think, “What would the benefits be if I started using this product?” Prepare yourself - they might highlight benefits you do not expect or they might not highlight the specific benefits you designed for them. Either way you get a glimpse into the features and attributes that resonate with them. 

Participants might share what they expect and even hope from your product. Listen! They are letting you know what they want! This can help you align your design with their aspirations, market your product better, and help you manage expectations. Managing expectations means not overhyping or overpromising. It means creating alignment between expectations and what the product can actually do. This can enhance user satisfaction and reduce returns because of mismatched expectations. 

Asking and understanding what your user wants from the product helps you make changes and iterations before too much has been invested. There are benefits to asking about the benefits and drawbacks early on. Here are just a few: 

First, concept testing encourages rapid and relatively easy ideation. The design team can get ideas quickly because this stage only needs a product write up (we’ll show you later). The product concept can be updated based on whatever feedback is shared. 

Second, concept testing is less defined and leaves room for interpretation. Assuming you’re testing your concept with a relevant pool of participants, they get to read into the experience. They will probably share unconsidered insights that will help you build around the user’s actual needs. 

Third, concept testing gives you an idea of how your product could be adapted. This is one of the most important benefits as it places the user at the center of product development. In a way, it tests the feasibility, usefulness, and appeal of your product. While not fool-proof, concept testing can help increase the chances that what you launch will be a viable option in the market and something that people will buy because it solves a real pain point.

Finally, innovation is often applying experiences from one industry to another (think analogies like “Uber, but for doctors”) and testing concepts at this early stage, can help you move forward with the right ideas based on real user feedback avoiding investmenting in lengthy builds that flop once released. 

We can’t go on without addressing a few possible downsides. No method is perfect and while we love concept testing, there are some drawbacks, a couple of which we’re including here.

  • Take it with a grain of salt. Concept testing being imagined means that it won’t be completely realistic nor necessarily produce 100% accurate results. But that’s okay because you don’t use concept testing as the only way of testing a product. You’re just testing to see if it would be appealing or helpful to a user. 
  • It’s open to interpretation. The flipside of one of its pros, openness to interpretation means that the scenarios might mean different things to different people. One way to mitigate resulting drawbacks, ask people to walk through how it would/could work in their life.

Putting it in the field

When conducting concept testing, providing context and asking questions like, "Does this concept have a place in your [life/home/business]?" is crucial for several reasons. This technique helps participants envision how the concept integrates into their routines by making the concept more relatable and understandable. 

Here are some ways in which it helps:

Relevance Assessment: By framing the concept within the context of the participants' lives, you're encouraging them to think about whether the concept is relevant to their specific needs or situation. This helps in filtering out ideas that may not resonate with your target audience.

Real-Life Application: When participants consider how a concept fits into their daily routines or professional responsibilities, they start thinking about practical applications. This can lead to valuable insights into how your concept can solve their problems or make their lives easier.

Identifying Pain Points: Participants may highlight pain points or challenges they currently face in their lives or businesses. By placing the concept within their context, they can express whether it addresses these pain points effectively or if there are gaps that need to be addressed.

From Verbalization to Action

Experience teaches us that you can’t always trust what people say they will do. It’s not evidence on its own! But when they describe how it fits into their daily life or work life, they will describe scenarios. Listen to what they describe and how they describe it. Encourage them to be specific and as accurate to their life as possible. 

The goal is to get them to imagine your concept in a real-ish life scenario from their life.

Notice what attributes of the concept make it appealing or salient. This might help you position your product later on. Take note of their scenario, the user behaviors, and decision-making process. All of these insights will help you later on as you begin building your product. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, concept testing is a valuable tool for early product development and market research due to its cost-effectiveness and suitability for rapid refinement. It helps a researcher understand user preferences and expectations, despite its inherent limitations such as imperfect accuracy and potential variations in interpretations. By bridging the gap between idea and implementation, concept testing offers insights into product integration into users' routines, enhancing positioning and comprehension of user behavior. When combined with other research methods, concept testing empowers us to create more user-centric solutions.

Additional Resources:

Here is an example of a product writeup.

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