Leverage feedback data across your development process and go to market with successful products

Product testing is critical. If you were to revisit some of the most trusted new product development models, from IDEO to Stage-Gate and beyond, you’d notice that gathering product testing feedback is a major step in each model. We also know that the more we can infuse the customer voice into appropriate steps along the product development process, the more your products can delight them.

Testing feedback can generate critical information as early on as the concept stage. Taking this approach lets you start your product down the right path, right away. And how you capture that early feedback is important.

Process-Centric Product Testing for Product Development

There are many tools out there that are designed to be used for a specific instance of customer feedback. For example, in the form of a single survey. But what about when you’re looking to carry a selection of relevant and reliable target customers through a multistep development process, providing feedback along the way?

Unlike simple survey providers, which are designed for a point-in-time need for feedback, product testing platforms understand your feedback needs. They know that these needs span across a product development process. They are designed to capture critical feedback at multiple points, from concept through launch.

This common approach can easily be illustrated by looking at a simplified development process:

The seven stages of the developmental process

At a minimum, you should be testing your new product at both the concept testing and product testing stages to yield valuable testing benefits including increased sales, decreased return rates, higher customer satisfaction, and stronger brand loyalty.

Now, different testing stages often are designed differently and have their own unique requirements. For example, it’s common to test your concept with a larger sample size of target customers. This generates results of some statistical significance, modeling a target market’s preferences, needs, and/or appetite for your product. At the product testing stage, it’s common to be more focused on validating performance attributes and catching major issues. This is typically done with a small group of testers who are using your product in its intended environment.

We can see that a single product would require multiple stages of testing along the development timeline. A product testing platform not only accommodates multiple stages but also leverages different stages for increased testing accuracy and efficiency.

Leveraging Multiple Product Testing Stages for Increased Accuracy and Efficiency

The ideal approach to generate the most relevant and impactful feedback along the development process would be to utilize your concept test to not only validate and improve your product idea through consumer insights but also to identify ideal product testers once your concept becomes real. This type of approach is a natural result of your basic analysis process, anyway. Reviewing comments and other qualitative feedback paints a clear picture of each of your respondents. This can result in identifying the perfect testers.

From here, the right technology can go a long way in making your job faster, easier, and more impactful. The ability to identify an ideal product tester from concept testing feedback, tag them in your product tester community and carry them into future product testing can cut task times down considerably. The same goes for known reliability, where expectations for feedback are high during small-sample field testing. The lower the risk of unresponsive testers, the less time you or your team will spend on gathering feedback. Simply put, a feedback platform that’s purpose-built to support a process instead of an instance will increase your feedback quality and efficiency.

Tester-Generated Insights, Product Development, and Marketing Refinement

Another intrinsic value of connected feedback stages is the opportunity for positioning and messaging refinement. This is done by identifying key customer language and understanding attribute importance. By starting the front end of your development process with a concept test that’s designed to better understand customer interests and needs and validates a product opportunity, you can generate a significant amount of qualitative feedback. This feedback is your target customers telling you exactly what they think and want in their own words.

Now, oriented in the customer’s perspective and language, continuing your listening exercise through field testing will help you position attribute messaging based on real user feedback. Sometimes, this positioning exercise can deliver surprising results that can improve how you go to market with your product.

For example, you may have validated a “world’s lightest helmet” concept through concept testing with your target customers. Interest and appetite? Check. Next, you prepare a product brief heavily focused on a “world’s lightest helmet” story. Once prototypes or modified samples are ready, they go out to your most relevant concept testers who will put them to use in the field. But when the feedback comes back, it’s not about how light the helmet was to pack for travel, carry, or wear. Instead, most testers raved about comfort. It is weight that gets strapped to your customer’s head, after all.

What was intended to be a story about “lightweight” in a “fast and light” product category becomes a comfort story supported by lightness. It uses customer language like “I have the safety of a helmet without feeling like I’m wearing one.”

Pulling it All Together

Just as you’d review relevant sales data for a new product opportunity, comb through lab results for material performance needs and review dips for color. The most successful brands are also including the customer voice at strategic stages along the way.

It all comes down to a basic equation: brands that are serious about their products are serious about their customers. Feedback platforms that are serious about brands are serious about product development.

Whether you’re just now adopting a product testing process or looking to upgrade a current process with new feedback channels and efficiency, a product testing platform will provide purpose-built solutions for each stage while leveraging one into the next, from concept to launch.

Learn more about Connecting Concept Testing and Product Testing