Consumer Product Testing – Looking beyond “Liking”

At Eolas International, we have over 20 years experience of product testing with consumers and sensory panellists.  As Ireland’s largest sensory provider, we have partnered with FMCG clients around the globe and have tested more than 75,000 products in our modern, purpose built testing facilities and in the Irish marketplace.

Product testing is sometimes seen as a “tick box” exercise.  As long as the consumer likes the product and there are no quality issues, there is no problem – right?

We see things very differently.  Whilst product testing should absolutely be used to validate consumer response to your product, product testing can uncover valuable and actionable insights on market and product development opportunities which can have impact long after product launch.  To unlock these insights, there are three critical considerations:

Move Away From “Joe Random”

Conducting product testing in the same venue used a hundred times, in the same part of the same city, using the same screening questions may mean data can be delivered quickly, but the quality of data is questionable.  It is common that the same person testing a soft drink one day, may have tested a snack product only last week simply because they walked along the same street as they usually do.

We do not believe in the luck of the right consumer profile coming along randomly in the street – we test products in the places where we know the right consumers will be.  Fitness fanatics in gyms, toddlers in playzones, gin lovers in bars, GAA members in GAA clubs.

Moving away from “Joe Random” means targeting the right consumers in the right places, and at Eolas, we are committed to making every effort to be in those place to test products with the people that matter.

Location, Location, Location

Deciding on locations for product testing is a little like looking for a home – you need to fully understand what your key priorities are and what you can compromise on.  If you are looking for quantitative validation, you wouldn’t run an in-depth panel, and similarly if you are looking for deep insights, a hundred hall based taste test wont provide that.  However, it is perfectly feasible to design a cost effective research plan encompassing different elements.

Eolas offer three distinct approaches to product testing: Marketplace, In-Home and Panels.

If your objective is to understand consumer sentiment, Marketplace product testing is usually best suited, but combining this with sensory panel testing can uncover detailed insights on product features and attributes driving sentiment and differentiation between products.  In-home testing provides the most natural setting, allowing you to observe and understand the product as it will be used and consumed by consumers.

Nearly Everyone Likes Chocolate

The majority of product tests often use a scale and action standards which are common across brands and tests.  This allows direct comparability and standardised research approaches but does not take account of preference skews within product types.

For example, most people like chocolate and it is much more likely to achieve a preference rating at the upper level of a scale than some other product type, such as salad dressings.

To provide the truest view of how products perform in testing, Eolas can provide category level benchmarking to understand fully how the results compare to 100s of other products from the same category.

In Eolas, our ambition is to demonstrate and continually enhance the value and insights that our clients can obtain from consumer product testing, an arena of consumer research that has many opportunities for advancement in techniques and quality.  Our investment in mobile based technologies also allows you to understand product usage in the natural consumer setting, for powerful and authentic insights.

If you have product testing requirements, please contact Aiden or Shanice at Eolas International, by emailing aiden@eolasinternational.com to discuss how we can help drive increased value from your research.

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