Concept Testing: Ideas on the test bench

concept testing

How good or bad is an idea? Concept Testing provides meaningful data on the prospects for success even prior to the development of new products and marketing campaigns. Concept Testing prevents failures from the very beginning.

Why Concept Testing?

Whether a traditional advertising campaign or online marketing with content strategy and search engine optimization, every project carries risks. The risk of a flop is costly. It therefore makes sense to test the real prospects of a product launch or campaign at an early stage. This is where concept testing comes into play. It tests the basic project idea.

VThe idea for a particular product or campaign is the prerequisite for a concept test. This idea must exist in outline and it must be possible to describe it in detail.

  • Concept testing starts by determining the acceptance of the idea by the target group.
  • The test also provides results on the positioning of the product, the campaign and the target group.

Is the idea unique? What are the chances that the target group will like the idea? The answers to these questions will determine whether to realize a project or not.

What is Concept Testing suitable for?

Concept testing can be used in many different ways. The analysis delivers feedback from the target group in the early phase of a project concept. Possible applications are for example:

  • New logos and designs
  • Advertisements
  • New products
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Social media concepts

The idea of concept testing is based on early analysis. Companies do not have to wait until a product is 100 percent ready for the market. After all, numerous individual steps are necessary from the idea to the complete design. These steps cost money. Concept testing reduces the risk of flops, and ideally, it can provide inspiration for changes or adjustments to the idea. The benefits of concept testing are clear:

  • Concept tests create competitive advantages
  • They save time and money
  • They prevent unnecessary expenditures
  • They enable adjustments to be made to the idea before it is ready for the market

Concept testing is also ideal for comparing different ideas that regularly arise after brainstorming in a team.

The role of Concept Testing in the innovation process

Several steps are necessary from an idea to the realization. All of these are important. Three phases of an idea are fundamental:

  1. Generation of ideas
  2. Acceptance of ideas
  3. Realization of ideas

The concept test starts at phase 2: Acceptance. However, many findings from this phase also influence phase 3: Realization.

  • The generation of ideas (for example through brainstorming) is of course already based on how the target group reacts. For the most part, however, only speculation is possible in this step.
  • The concept test is used to check the acceptance of the idea. This is the basis for the selection of a specific concept and the creation of a detailed realization plan. The idea itself may take on new contours at this stage.
  • However, the realization of the idea is the practical implementation, i.e., the market launch or the start of a campaign.

Acceptance should continue to be monitored during the implementation phase to be able to adapt the product or the campaign. The acceptance tests during the realization phase benefit from the findings of the concept tests.

How does Concept Testing work?

Before a concept test can be carried out, there must of course first be an idea that can be tested. Andto test this idea, it must have at least a few clear contours. If it fulfills this prerequisite, then the test can be carried out. This is done in five steps:

  1. Identification of the test group
  2. Selection of the concept
  3. Interviewing the test group for spontaneous reactions in particular
  4. Analysis of the feedback
  5. Evaluation with recommendations

The implementation of concept tests is particularly easy, fast and cost-effective with the crowd. This enables the generation of resilient results within a very short time. The target group can also be clearly mapped by setting clear conditions for the participants.


Concept testing with the crowd delivers informative results in the early stages of your project.

Find participants and get feedback now

For example: You want to give a product a new brand logo. For this purpose, a short questionnaire is designed as part of a concept test, which is then presented to the participants. They will be asked to answer the following questions:

  • What is your first, spontaneous association?
  • Is the logo unique?
  • Is it credible?
  • Is it visually appealing?
  • Is the logo a good fit for the brand and the product?

A study can be carried out with just a few participants. The clearer the answers lean in a particular direction, the easier it is to set the course in the early stages of logo development. And that is often the intention of the project. This also leaves room for developing new ideas or optimizing existing ones that are more profitable than the existing ones.

The design of a Concept Test

Some details need to be taken into account to ensure that the answers from a concept test are of use. These already play a role in the concept test design.

The product idea should be explained as comprehensively and clearly as possible. This can be done using a three-staged approach:

  1. Insight: Presentation of a problem or a conflict for which the new product is intended to provide a solution. The product itself may not be named at this point.
  2. Benefit: What benefit does a solution to the problem offer?
  3. The solution: Concise, factual description of the product idea.

In the questionnaire, the participants are given the opportunity to click their opinion regarding individual questions as simply as possible on a graduated scale.

Finally, a factor that is often forgotten but that is extremely important: In the end, what counts is not only whether the target group likes the product idea. The decisive factor is the willingness to buy. This question can also be used to determine an optimum purchase price.

Quality requirements for the test

The test instruments – i.e., the questionnaires – must be of high quality. Without quality assurance, the answers provide only limited information about whether an idea works or not. Measurement errors distort the results. There are various approaches to ensure test quality:

  • Conducting preliminary tests to uncover conceptual errors in the test (missing questions, logical errors, procedural errors).
  • Preliminary questions that test various personal parameters (for example, the credibility of the test person)
  • Prediction of the measurement quality of the question. There are powerful open- source solutions available such as Survey Quality Predictor.

Monadic tests have proven to be beneficial when testing two or more ideas. A monadic test surveys only one idea per participant. This procedure prevents bias due to interaction effects. Monadic tests tend to require more participants. However, the higher reliability of the results compensates for this disadvantage.


The success of a product launch or a marketing concept depends on the acceptance of the target group. Concept testing checks this acceptance prior to the production or development of a campaign. Concept testing saves resources, it is universally applicable and, in some cases, also provide new ideas that can be derived directly from the feedback of the target group.



Jan Knupper