I recently conducted a new product concept test for a client to help them make a decision about whether to bring a new product to market. We also tested two products that are already in the market and several competitive products. Testing products that are already on the market in addition to the new product concept provided us normative data that we used to interpret the new product test scores.

One of the client’s products scored a much higher purchase likelihood score than any of the other products that were tested. Its purchase likelihood score was 11 points higher than that of the competitive product. Respondents thought the price was good, the product was perceived as meeting a need that current competitive products weren’t meeting, and respondents thought it was unique. All the measurements were favorable and indicated that the product had a high likelihood of marketplace success. Yet, this was a product that had thus far failed to meet company performance expectations.

Does this indicate the concept testing is not a good predictor of marketplace success after all? Not at all. In fact, it proves just how important concept testing is.

When sales started selling this product, they got no’s from the first couple of retailers they presented the product to which caused them to lose confidence in the product. After all, if they couldn’t get their lead retail customers to take the product, what was the point of putting much effort into selling it? They know from past experience that once a couple of retailers start having success with a product, other customers will follow. They also believed the reverse is true: without success stories from their lead retailers, they stood little chance of success with other retailers.

Would the sales force have continued to put effort into selling this product despite initial resistance if they had known how strong the product’s consumer appeal was?

My client said “no”. They told me that retailers will look at positive consumer research data but what is most important to them is retail success stories.