Enriching the Concept Testing Experience with 3D Digital Product Models

New technologies are enhancing concept testing solutions. This is allowing brands to generate critical customer feedback on new product concepts closer to product launch. Now, 3D digital product models and renderings are enriching the concept testing experience. They are building a pathway for more pre-market insights – and confidence – than ever before.

By leveraging 3D digital product renderings, product testing platforms can ensure customers are providing feedback on concepts portrayed exactly as intended. These 3D digital assets are also resulting in time and cost savings across the product development timeline.

In this article, we’ll explore how 3D digital product models and renderings are able to enhance pre-market Voice of the Customer solutions for product development.

3D digital product rendering of apparel for concept testing during product development

Increased Confidence Through a More Realistic Tester Experience

Any purpose-built product testing platform should be designed to support the fuzzy front end of new product development. These concept testing tools are leveraged to facilitate critical research. Their goal is to identify a product opportunity worth actually developing. But despite ongoing advancements in both design and customer feedback technology, most product visuals used for early-stage concept testing with retail customers continue to be two-dimensional.

While the proven value of testing product concepts early and often with 2D visuals still holds, 3D is allowing brands to share their product concepts more realistically with their target customers before going to market. This ability for a tester to turn, flip and pivot a virtual prototype is a more immersive experience that brings them closer to the product.

Further, post-processing tools bring 3D models to life through shading and texture. From the drape of a new midi dress to the breathable toe box of a new work boot, testers are able to develop a more accurate understanding of your concept through hyper-realistic visuals. And in turn, they’re better able to provide detailed feedback. Simply put, higher fidelity is creating higher confidence in product decisions.

Effective and Efficient Concept Validation Through 3D Product Renderings

Testing physical prototypes is a critical step in the product development process. It ensures product performance and can catch critical failures. But when your team is looking to validate a new concept and choose a design direction, physical samples often don’t support the flexibility required to test numerous variations quickly.

3D product rendering of a running shoe for concept testing
Leveraging 3D digital product renderings in early-stage concept testing can save time and costs on concept validation

The first step is to identify the viable concept and validate the concept with your target market through concept testing. With a traditional product concept, you may find yourself going back to the drawing board if there is not an appetite for your concept within your target audience. With sew-ups from a sample room, let alone tooled parts, that can be a long, expensive reset. But when your target market rejects your concept conveyed through a 3D model, the feedback can be quickly applied. This approach ultimately accelerates the process of gathering feedback, applying feedback, and testing again. It can also provide significant cost savings.

Rapid 3D Digital Product Iteration on Accelerated Timelines

Once the product concept becomes an opportunity validated by your target market, direction selection and refinement begins. At this point, the purpose of customer feedback is to assist with the selection of the best specific product concept direction. This, in turn, generates actionable feedback for pre-market improvements.

The benefits of 3D digital product renderings during concept validation apply here as well. The flexibility of the 3D model compared to physical prototypes allows for much more efficient changes. This means creating multiple variations of your product for design direction testing can be done in hours, or even minutes. Once loaded into a concept testing survey, valuable early feedback can ensure the product is going in the right direction, right away.

From there, the common next step before physical prototyping begins is often refinement. A viable product opportunity has been validated by the target market, and an optimal design direction identified. Now it’s time to work out the kinks. Here, 3D digital product models can be significantly more efficient than tweaking physical prototypes. This allows you and your team to make adjustments digitally. Don’t get us wrong – we have a deep appreciation for rolling up our sleeves and getting the scissors out – we just take comfort in knowing that can still come later.

A Common Thread Through Design, Development, Merchandising, and Marketing

Digital tools continue to connect us. They allow us to survey hundreds of target customers in one minute, then share key findings with your teammate later that day. Once created, the 3D product model itself can become a common thread, connecting adjacent teams as the product moves through the development process. And while we’ve explored the value of these 3D models and 3D renderings for product development, they continue to provide value as they move into marketing.

Experimentation in finding the best ways to present products to customers continues. As products prepare for launch, the 3D assets can continue to be utilized even when physical samples exist. In this use case, brands are able to test their marketing content and advertising campaigns with computer-generated imagery. This saves time and money. The ability for the same product design and development rendering to contribute to marketing insights and collateral is simply more valuable from the same asset.

Not all brands have embraced digital product creation and 3D in the retail space. Many continue to navigate their proof of concept. However, in regard to use cases, Kalypso’s study on the retail footwear and apparel industry’s 2020 progress in DPC signals “3D product design and voice of customer analytics integration had the highest average current maturity.” As brands explore the value of 3D in product creation, they can be assured that effective pre-market customer feedback solutions will be right at their fingertips.

Whether you’re looking to scale your 3D product concept testing or just starting to formulate a strategy, MESH01 can provide the guidance and expertise needed to enhance your pre-market Voice of the Customer toolkit.

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