New Product Testing Methods That Are Driving Market Success
We know consumer buying habits and priorities have shifted as a direct result of the pandemic and related economic challenges, but they’re still buying – and new product testing methods are helping brands ensure they launch the right products to meet changing demands.
Launching the Right Products in New Market Norms
Consumer behaviors that changed to adapt to pandemic life have become standard practice in many ways, many continuing even as things return to a greater sense of normalcy.
We’re continuing to see less in-person shopping than years ago and a heavy reliance on digital for purchases, including on-the-go mobile shopping inspired by ads.
Consumers are also becoming extremely well-informed about their purchase decisions, resulting in expectations for better brand experiences, greater personal connections, and the right products.
And while we were once trading in our blouses and dress shoes for cozy loungewear, recent return-to-office life and other social freedoms for many are driving new clothing purchases and transforming out-of-home styles and preferences.
These changes are adding complexity to the formulas behind launching products consumers want. What worked for your brand before may no longer be the best direction, and there are likely many new product opportunities worth evaluating to satisfy changing norms and trends.
Overcoming Today’s Market Challenges
A McKinsey report on the state of fashion in 2022 found that retail executives believe digital and sustainability are the biggest opportunities for growth in the industry, while supply chain, logistics, and inventory management will be the biggest challenges.
Many companies have been struggling to avoid unsold inventory, mark-downs, and supply chain issues that cause product delays or out-of-stocks. The customer experience – vital in today’s evolved consumer landscape – often suffers as a result of these challenges, potentially harming brand reputation and causing a disconnect between brands and their customers.
Past COVID-19 surges, inflation, and geopolitical unrest have only created greater pressure for brands as these elements have all impacted the consumer mindset and their buying decisions.
Alleviating some of these challenges can be achieved through the launch of great products that not only meet the consumer’s right-now needs, but also of course look, feel, and perform in line with their expectations.
And despite the uncertainty surrounding market conditions after 2+ years of sustained disruption, there are still trusted, stable paths to growth, even in an altered landscape.
Today’s New Products Require New Product Testing Methods
With everything brands have had to navigate and overcome in the past 2+ years, the stage is set for taking advantage of one of the most trusted and effective ways to ensure a successful product launch – concept and product testing.
Whether conducting testing on a product concept, a new product, or testing an existing product to identify improvements and updates, it’s the surest way to predict your product’s place in the market. Product testing platforms offer an upstream opportunity to mitigate downstream inventory challenges in this new buying and sourcing environment by providing key optimizations for your product development and merchandising activities without slowing down tight timelines.
Read More: How to Find the Right Product Testers – Fast
Let’s take a look at some of the key ways concept and product testing platform solutions are facilitating new product testing methods within product development processes.
Revitalize Existing Products. New product testing methods are great for new products, but you can also leverage product testing to breathe new life into an existing product. This allows brands to extend a product’s lifecycle -often times renewing it- without the risk of introducing new items intended to replace a key-item’s sales. L.L.Bean used the MESH01 platform to successfully update a popular rain jacket, consequently avoiding sales decline and maintaining customer satisfaction. Best-selling products go through lifecycles like anything else, and product testing to identify areas for improvement can rejuvenate a customer-favorite as much as brand new products.
Access the Voice of the Customer during Product Development. A common product testing pain point brands experience is a lack of access to reliable and unbiased feedback communities. Integrated product tester communities are solving for this bottleneck by supplying brands with qualified testers that are reflective of your target market. Within these tester communities, simply narrow down testers in your specific target audience based on more than just demographics – select testers based on bio-attributes like preferred activities, activity level, and buying habits. Distribute concept surveys to gauge the viability of your product concept among your target market, and send product prototypes for testing in real-world scenarios the way your product is intended to be used.
You not only get fast, reliable feedback, but you know it’s from individuals representative of your actual customers. Employing this basic step can mean the difference between costly product misses and capitalizing on a current product opportunity.
Get Immediate Feedback You Can Apply Right Away. Infuse your product design and development processes with invaluable feedback without slowing down. Fast timelines are no issue on a single-platform solution that collects product testing feedback that can be made visible among all of the right stakeholders. Different departments within your organization will be better connected and aware of all feedback data, and changes or updates based on feedback can be easily applied across stages. This connectivity supports the abilities to understand what the customer is looking for right now, creating a product for that need and positioning and marketing it effectively, all based on a single source of truth.
Launch the Right Products. Testing with individuals who represent your actual customers means you’ll be launching products you already know your customers want. Asking friends, family, or coworkers for input, or trusting a generic panel runs the risk of not getting the full story and not using your product as intended. With testers who take your product into the world the right way, you can generate feedback to help you perfect the product and deliver not just what your customers want, but an elevated product (and brand) experience, as well.
Generate Pre-Market Reviews to Accelerate Sales. Testers who love your product provide great reviews as a result of the testing process which help validate your product right at launch. According to a 2022 consumer survey, 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as a word-of-mouth recommendation. Product testing enables great reviews to jump-start your product’s market debut and provides excellent validation for future customers. This byproduct of the product testing process can lead to meaningful increases in sell-through, helping brand mitigate inventory glut in the wrong products and associated mark-downs.
Read More: Tester-Generated Content
The Right Products Are Right in Front of You
Mitigate inventory challenges like unsold stock and mark-downs by going to market with products you know will sell. Test your concepts and products with trusted, qualified testers who represent your target market – and eliminate the risks associated with making assumptions or sacrificing testing altogether.
New product testing is the best way to predict if your new product will be a success in the market, and finding out the hard way is much more costly and time-consuming than the alternative.