| Marketing Research Services
| Product Optimization (or Product Testing)
Product Optimization (or Product Testing)
Product testing is, perhaps, the single most important type of research any company ever conducts. Achieving clear-cut product superiority in a
category is the surest way to build brand share, engender customer loyalty, and boost profitability. Better products tend to command higher prices and be more responsive to advertising investments.
Product Testing Applications
- Achieve product superiority over competitive products.
- Monitor the potential threats posed by competitive products.
- Cost-reduce product formulations and/or processing methods.
- Measure the effects of aging on products (shelf-life studies).
- Monitor product quality from different factories.
- Predict consumer acceptance of new products.
- Determine the optimal set of ingredients or features, given a price point
or profit goal
A Moving Target
The consumer’s palate is a moving target. Consumer tastes evolve over
time. Fashion and style trends affect every industry (clothing, shoes, automobiles,
foods, lawnmowers, washing machines, jet engines, etc.), even though the rate
of change varies greatly by industry. Competitive actions can redefine a product
category in a matter of months. That’s why product testing and optimization
must be viewed as a strategic, ongoing activity. The human race’s preferences
and proclivities are a moving target.
The Testing Environment
“Real environment” testing (i.e., testing a product the way it
is typically used) is almost always the most accurate method of product evaluation.
For example, having consumers evaluate food products in their homes rather than
in a laboratory or test kitchen is usually recommended.
Products should be tested using a standardized system so that each product
is tested in exactly the same way. Decision Analyst designs and operates product
testing systems customized to the products, goals, and needs of each client. A
“systems” approach is essential, so that every product is tested in
precisely the same way. Normative data can then be accumulated to aid in the interpretation
of subsequent product tests.
For in-home usage testing, Decision Analyst developed Optima®, a standardized
monadic system. Each product is tested in exactly the same way and this allows
results to be compared across tests and over time.
Product testing methods vary by product category. For consumer packaged goods,
in-home usage testing is typically the recommended method. For durable goods,
however, product clinics are generally the preferred method. For services, some
type of customer satisfaction tracking or mystery shopping is recommended. Regardless
of product category, the following principles generally apply.
If you conduct hundreds of product tests per year, then it may make sense to
consider building a private product testing panel, consisting of category users
and your customers. We have the staff, software, and systems to build and operate
online panels to support product testing, sensory research, and in-home usage
Decision Analyst designs and implements comprehensive testing systems based
on package invitations. The purpose of on-package or in-package testing systems
is typically quality assurance or quality control. Every nth package invites consumers
to answer the basic question, “How good is this product?” Respondents
log in to a website and rate the product. This provides an economical way to monitor
the quality of products over time, and monitor the quality of products from different
factories. It’s also a viable method of product testing when large numbers
of different products must be tested on an ongoing basis (e.g., private-label
Product Clinics (Durable Goods)
For durable goods, central-location product clinics are an important technique.
Automobiles, washing machines, and refrigerators are examples of products that
lend themselves to clinics. In a product clinic, the test product (say, a new
car) is placed in a central-location facility along with major competitive automobiles.
Potential buyers of that type of new car are recruited to view, examine, and evaluate
all of the cars on display. Decision Analyst is adept at planning and executing
complex product clinics.
Nonfood Product Testing
The concepts, methods, and techniques of product testing can be adapted and
applied to almost any product category. Our staff has evaluated:
- Airliner seats
- Cellular phones
- Educational toys
- Electronic games
- Film & film processing
- Food service products
- Frying pans
- Game prototypes
- Gaming devices
- Glass windows
- Hotel rooms
- Microwave ovens
- Personal computers
- Restaurant entrees & side dishes
- Restaurant exteriors & interiors
- Retail store layouts
- Washing machines
Services can be improved through “product testing.” Services are
nebulous and vaporous compared to physical products. Services can be evaluated
by various types of customer satisfaction research or mystery shopping. Decision
Analyst designs and operates research systems to monitor and improve the quality
of services in service industries.
Product Optimization Services
Decision Analyst is a recognized leader in consumer product testing and optimization.
Its staff has evaluated more than 1,000 foods, beverages, and other products during
the past 3 decades. The firm has many staff members with extensive experience
in the conduct and analysis of product testing and optimization studies. The company
is a leader in the development of analytical techniques to enhance product testing
If you would like more information on product testing, please contact Jerry W. Thomas, President/CEO (firstname.lastname@example.org),
or call 1-800-ANALYSIS (262-5974) or 1-817-640-6166.
Additional Resources From Decision Analyst
Product Testing Services
New Product Research Brochures
Product Testing Case Histories
Product Testing White Papers