Want to make sure your concept test is giving you accurate feedback?  Pay attention to your KPIs and benchmarks.

Walking direction on asphalt.

Suppose you have a hot product idea.  What’s the best way to see how it will be received by your audience?  The concept test, right?

Let’s consider. Sure, concept testing is a proven tactic.  And it’s relatively straightforward:  get a research partner, test the concept, and find out if the idea will realistically work in the market.

We’re far from against the concept test itself.  Give it the right input, and you will get great information back.  But talk to any experienced marketer and they’ll tell you that concept tests can easily go bad, unintentionally misleading product managers into launching weak products or failing to launch ones with true potential.

So how can you make sure a good concept test doesn’t go bad?

Step 1: Choose Your KPIs Wisely

Before you start testing, make sure you identify and use the appropriate KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Often, the focus is on incorporating product-relevant KPIs into the research design. Testing an idea for likeability, relevance, uniqueness, etc. will estimate how well the product fits its market. But businesses rarely make their entire plans around launching a single product; other overarching business goals need to be considered, too.

For a true overall picture, choose your KPIs with more than just the product in mind. It is critical to reconcile KPIs to broader business goals. Ultimately, this will make the go/no-go decision clearer.

Step 2:  Set Appropriate Benchmarks

Once your KPIs are in place, a new question arises. How can you determine what the scores coming back from your concept tests actually mean?  You’ll have to set benchmarks.  Accurate benchmarks help determine if the concept will do well. But if your concept is for something very new or different, setting benchmarks can be complicated.

Respondents can have a bias against ideas that challenge their status quo or seem outside their personal comfort zone. And they may not readily understand the benefits of a new product.  In this scenario, going by absolute scores is the fastest way to kill off a promising concept.

Fortunately, you’re not bound to absolutes.  In established markets, you can use historical data or industry knowledge as a starting point. For newer markets, you can judge relative performance and customer acceptance against the other concepts tested in your study.

There’s no reason to let a good concept test go bad.  By choosing the right KPIs and by using relevant benchmarks to interpret the scores your product receives, you can get a handle on the launch/don’t launch question.

Authored by Shiva Seth – Manager, Market Research Practice at Absolutdata & Akanksha Mittal – Research Analyst, Market Research Practice at Absolutdata