Putting Things Into Perspective
December 18, 2005
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Conventional product testing techniques have been known to over dramatize a product change and result in questionable action steps. The following recent chain of events is a good example of this.
The (XXXX) Division was within seven weeks of an extensive test market introduction when we uncovered a potential consumer recognizable product negative. The test market involved (Brand) and the negative was an outage problem of 1/2 to 5/8 inches.
We were asked to determine the level of consumer awareness. Two spot tests were conducted, a parallel single product Mrs. Jones Test and a paired comparison spot test where the panelists would examine both products, the current production with no outage and the improved version with the 1/2 inch outage.
Both studies resulted in data that said the outage problem was serious. In the Mrs. Jones Test, the unfavorable responses for "carton not full", "deceptive packaging", and "not enough for the money" totaled 66% for the 5/8" outage, 45% for the 1/2" outage, and 6% for no outage. In the pair test, the improved product with the 1/2" outage was preferred over the current product with no outage by 76/24; however, 37% of those preferring the current product did so because the 1/2" outage carton was not full.
As a result, a third study was conducted to verify the high level awareness of outage in normal use. This study involved the placing of the product in six supermarkets, identifying the purchasers of the new product and the current product, and finally, interviewing the purchasers two weeks later. Five hundred and seventy-five (575) interviews were conducted among people who had purchased either the current product with no outage problem or the improved product with the varying outages. The results indicated that the outage was not a problem. Not once was outage mentioned in response to a series of questions involving that awareness of change, product dislikes, or intent to purchase, and if not, why not.
Based on the data, we proceeded with the test market using the product with the outage, but correcting the subsequent manufactured product.
A final note, after two months of test market experience, we had yet to receive our first outage complaint either written or verbal through the 800 Line.
Note: The above is from a paper I had written in August of 1981. I found it in my files and thought it to be appropriate considering some of my recent experiences. When, where and how you do your testing can have a profound effect on the results. Results will vary depending on the design of the study. We owe it to our clients to be aware of the variables affecting the results and choosing the appropriate design to best answer the problem.
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