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Testing Innovative Ideas | Reinventing Reinvention Guide

The most successful products solve consumer problems. Want to learn how to test out ideas that will do just that? This article is for you.

Iterative Testing

As mentioned earlier, companies tended to conduct fewer and larger research projects historically. For many, this often meant testing their innovation only once, at the concept test stage. Our Vice President of Customer Experience, Patrick Lambert, explains that these tests were regarded as pass-fail trials, where an innovation either succeeded or failed.

However, today’s testing is not just about passing or failing. It starts early at the idea stage, and it focuses on prioritizing ideas and optimizing them. It’s about digging into the ‘why’ and uncovering opportunities beyond the top-performing idea. It’s about discovering ideas that can be incremental for your product mix.

For example, you may find ideas that fit a specific customer group today. These ideas may have a lower volume or share potential and require a different marketing strategy, but they can be as impactful as your lead idea if executed correctly. At Upsiide, we call those ideas “Niche” because they gain lower interest, but those that like them really like them.

Early Testing

If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you’ve probably seen articles that state that 95% of new product launches fail. This number can be alarming, and it can seem daunting even for a large corporation that wants to innovate.

What too often happens is that marketing teams play it safe because of this ‘fear of failure’. Instead of working on something bold, they opt for something safer, something closer to what they already do and know.

Once in the market, the product doesn’t sell well, and it’s not incremental to their existing products. It may have led to some sales or positive reviews, but it hasn’t been a runaway success. Why? Probably because the innovation wasn’t that interesting.

This issue can be avoided if a company invests in early-stage testing. This means giving a chance to a broad range of ideas and prioritizing them based on consumer feedback. By testing early, you create a playing field where you can test out different opportunities and hypotheses without the pressure of spending a lot of money or time.

Patrick notes:

The most successful product innovations are solutions to a consumer’s struggles. Therefore, you must start by understanding the key consumer struggles you are trying to solve. Conducting research on your category and your brand is the beginning of your innovation process and is essential for an innovation process that leads to a broad range of good ideas.

Patrick Lambert, VP of Customer Experience


Dig’s tips for conducting better innovation research

1. Look into automated solutions that reflect strong research best practices

Automation has progressed a long way to help market research folks and beyond get more access to data and insights.

But not every automated insights platform is created equal. Automation is great when it empowers your team to do more with less without sacrificing the quality
of the insights. Additionally, you won’t be conducting every project at every stage of your process autonomously, so you want a platform that is supported by a solid team of researchers. It’s no longer just a binary choice between doing research self- serve on a platform versus doing it serviced, we are now in the era of tech-enabled research programs supported by both platform and service.

Here’s Patrick adding more details about how it works:

The services we offer aren’t always project-specific anymore. A lot of what we do is enablement, which is the implementation of a research program custom to the needs of our clients with a focus on empowering them to conduct their projects autonomously. A research program also means the different teams are conducting research with a sufficient level of standardization, allowing our team to deliver meta-analyses. It typically even includes the set up of agility funds which eliminate a lot of the traditional bureaucracy to execute a project.

Patrick Lambert, VP of Customer Experience


2. Learn how to write a concept the modern way

Back in the 90s, concept writing standards were a bit different. Since quite a lot of work was done manually, raw concepts had to be described to potential customers in detail.

Many researchers and marketers naturally default to using a PowerPoint slide with long concept descriptions. Those concepts would typically include a lot of info covering the insight that makes the product relevant, its key benefits, and the reasons to believe. It looked something like this:

These kinds of lengthy concepts don’t work in agile survey research anymore. Firstly, they take a lot of work to write, which is a pain when testing in the context of your current portfolio and competitors. Secondly, you aren’t able to communicate this much information in a real in-market situation (i.e. when people look at your product on the shelf and have to make a decision). And finally, if your idea performs well, you don’t know which elements of the concept drove that performance (i.e., is it the header or the image that piqued people’s interest?).

Furthermore, a vast majority of respondents are doing surveys on mobile, so you need to make sure your stimuli renders well on a small portrait-oriented screen. We recommend presenting only the critical info and focusing on what you are currently testing. On Upsiide, this looks something like the below.

As Patrick notes,

Your concept should be a reflection of what you actually plan to execute. So, don’t show an image or text in your concept if it’s not something an average consumer would know about your product when shopping the category. In most cases, if it’s not on the pack, it shouldn’t be on the concept.

Patrick Lambert, VP of Customer Experience


Want to learn about other stages of Dig's innovation process? Read our full Reinventing Reinvention Guide now.