About 50% of our surveys at PeopleFish are product/service concept studies.
This is when we present a client’s product or service idea to consumers to gauge their reaction—their interest, their willingness to pay, and their general enthusiasm about the concept.
These kinds of studies are critical to the success of any product (or service) launch. Well-funded startups often run these studies dozens, or even hundreds, of times before they launch. They’ll present their concept several different ways, emphasizing different features and benefits each time in order to see what resonates best with their target market. Which version, name, colors and brand they like the best, and which one draws the highest willingness to pay.
But what about startups running just one study? What’s the best way to present a new product or service concept to a sample of consumers that maximizes feedback without sacrificing on the specifics?
There are two key components here: Objectivity and Randomization. We’ll tackle these in order below.
When presenting your product or service concept to your target audience, it’s important to focus on features, and not benefits.
The fact is, we have a lot of clients who, instead of presenting their concept in their survey, try to pitch it to consumers in a way that inflates their reported level of interest or willingness to pay. The presentation becomes a sales pitch, and your survey respondents report unrealistically high levels of interest that ultimately make your survey findings less reliable.
For example, here’s a concept presentation gone awry—one that ends up pitching, instead of presenting, the concept to survey respondents:
iPod is a revolutionary way to experience your favorite music. Its cutting-edge technology puts the world’s library of music in the palm of your hand. No more waiting on CD shipments or slow downloads to start enjoying the music you love, wherever and whenever you want to listen.
At first glance, who wouldn’t be interested in this product? Probably many people would pay more than a thousand dollars, if this really works as described. But is that really what’s being sold here?
Here’s a better presentation of the same product:
iPod is a handheld, electronic Apple device that stores your music collection. Take it anywhere, and plug in your headphones to listen anytime to any song you own!
Much better! Simple, straightforward, and focused on features (not extravagant, and ultimately subjective, benefits). Even if this doesn’t communicate the full extent of how your product might ultimately add value to your target market’s lives, it’s better to slightly under-promote your concept (in a market research survey) and have a better-than-expected launch than to over-promote it and watch your launch fall short of expectations.
One last note: This rule holds whether you’re using a video, images, or just regular ol’ text to present your concept. While multimedia is ideal, just a written description will suffice. The key is to follow the objectivity rule regardless of the format.
Say you don’t have the budget to survey 12,000 people about your concept, but you still want to present different variations of your concept to different sets of consumers in order to learn which the majority of people prefer.
Here’s where randomization can help.
Say you plan to survey 800 people. You ask them all a few demographic and behavioral questions, then present your concept and ask follow-up questions about interest and willingness to pay.
Rather than present the same concept to all 800 people, prepare two different variations and present each to 400 respondents. Or prepare four different variations and present each to 200 respondents. Then at the end of your survey, compare each presentation to determine the winners—which ones elicit the most interest, the highest willingness to pay, etc.
You may find that some versions resonate better with different kinds of respondents—for example, females may like certain versions more than they like others, or young people may prefer ones that older people don’t like.
Nevertheless, by using this kind of randomization, you’re able to not just measure overall interest in your concept, but also test different possible variations of your concept (or its messaging) in a way that allows you to make good, data-driven decisions about how exactly to package and promote your concept when it’s time to launch.
Do you have a startup or a new product/service idea? Enter your email below to get started and learn more about how PeopleFish can help you survey your target market.