How many times has this happened at your company?
You have a new product that you think is going to be a big winner. You introduce it to your sales force at your annual sales meeting and they, too, are excited about the product.
Then, a couple of your key brokers get no’s from the first couple of retailers they present the product to. Based on past experience, they are convinced that if their lead retailers don’t take the product, they stand little chance of getting other retailers to take the product. They are convinced that what is most important to retail buyers is retail success stories. So when their lead retail customers don’t take the product, they lose confidence in the product. As a result, a new product that could have been a big winner ends up failing to meet sales expectations … all because the first retail buyers who saw the product said no.
“How well will this product sell?”
That is the question that is going through the buyer’s mind when your sales people are showing them a new product. They don’t want to take a risk on a new product, especially if the product is unique, without some proof that the product is going to sell. In the absence of hard data, they look to what other retailers are doing to get the proof they need.
How do your sales people answer the question “How well will this product sell?” Are they able to provide objective third party data that proves that the product has a strong level of consumer interest?
Validation testing answers that question.
Validation testing provides you with the objective third party data that buyers need to make a buying decision.
Here’s an example of how validation testing works. Last year, I was contacted by a client who wanted to find out why one of their new products wasn’t selling as well as they thought it would. Was it the product, the packaging, or the price?
To get the answer, I conducted an online survey with the HomeTrend Influentials Panel.
HomeTrend Influentials (HIPsters) are the bellwether for predicting whether products are going to gain traction with mainstream Americans. If HIPsters embrace a new product, very likely it is going to be embraced by mainstream Americans. If HIPsters reject a new product, very likely the product is not going to be embraced by mainstream Americans either.
After showing survey respondents a photo of the product and having them read the package copy, I asked them questions about how well they liked the product, whether they thought the product would meet a need, how unique they thought the product was, what they would expect to pay for it, and how likely they would be to buy it at the stated price. To establish a benchmark for evaluating the data, I also tested the competitive product that was selling reasonably well.
The survey revealed that survey respondents liked the client’s product much better than the competitive product. They thought the price was good, they thought it met a need, and they thought it was superior to the competitive product. What’s more, the purchase likelihood score was 11 points higher than that of the competitive product. Quite clearly, the problem wasn’t the product, the package, or the price.
The problem turned out to be a sales force issue: When a couple of key lead retailers turned down the product, the brokers got discouraged and didn’t sell it as aggressively as they had at the beginning.
If my client had done validation testing before they started sell-in, they would have been able to arm their sales force with hard data proving that the product had a strong level of consumer interest.