Sagitta Market Research Ltd

Consumer Quantitative Research

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The importance of product testing research in our e-society

By Helen Lester, Sagitta Research

Product Testing research has never been more important. In our 24/7 ‘e-society’, where social media postings can help make or break a product and brand, it’s more critical than ever before that companies test their product before taking it to market. Consumers have so much choice now, both in terms of product access (with 24/7 online stores), but also with respect to the range of products available to them (due to increasing competition from Asia – especially China – and Eastern Europe). As a consequence, the modern shopper can be very impatient, intolerant and deal savvy. Therefore, manufacturers no longer have the luxury of developing their product ‘in the marketplace’, to ensure its success. Success is awarded to those who deliver a winning product from the outset – in other words, to those who get their product right first-time. Whether it be an expensive washing machine or low-cost lipstick, consumers don’t have the patience for second chances – they don’t want to waste their time or money.

Free ‘advocacy advertising’ (whereby a consumer recommends a product without being asked) is far more common with the prolific use of social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. A quick tweet to say how amazing the latest Apple gadget is can send followers into a frenzy and provide more trustworthy publicity than any traditional advertising campaign could achieve. To the contrary, a score of less than 7/10 on review forums such as Reevoo, can cause significant damage to a product or brand, not previously witnessed before the worldwide web.

Pre internet, an unresearched product could cost a company money in a variety of ways, for example the wrong demographic group being targeted. But companies often had the possibility of a hasty re-launch with a tweaked advertising campaign or modified product. However, this option is not so easy now. In our e-society, the stakes are much higher. Failure to conduct comprehensive product testing research could lead to the ultimate failure of your entire brand or a multi-million pound PR disaster – and with a click of a button the whole world will know about it before you have time to react.

Even the most experienced and slickest of brands are not immune – just look at Coca Cola’s failed product launch in the UK for its bottled water Dasani. One has to question how extensive its product testing research was in the UK, when it used the slogan “Bottled spunk” to describe the drink to the UK market. The slogan had delivered the company much success in the US. However, just one focus group should have highlighted the alternative meaning in British English.

So if you have a product to take to market, save yourself any potential product launch failure and instead maximise your brand’s potential by carrying out product testing research first. Can you really afford not to?