Testers and Users Revisited
When you are asked to test something, do you look at and use it differently than when you just happen to be using the same item? When testing, do you see things that you would not normally see in the course of using the same product? When testing, do you look more closely at the physical characteristics of the product? Do you look more closely at the packaging? Do performance features take on different meanings?
If you answered "Yes" to most, if not all of the above, you are a typical user and tester. Research has found that when you ask a person to test something for you, they place the product under the microscope. They see things that in the course of normal usage, they would never see or even consider.
If the above is true, how is it that almost all research is conducted in the Test Environment? It would seem to me that we would have some interest in the User Environment, especially if there is a substantial difference in the assessment under the two perspectives. After all, we do not sell to the Testers of the world, we see to Users. The Users are the ones who dictate the success or failure of a brand.
Actually, I like using both the Tester and the User Environment when assessing the potential of a brand. As a rule, I prefer to utilize Testers in the upstream research and as I get closer to market, I utilize the User Perspective.
I have found that very few companies utilize Users' perspective when assessing the potential of a brand. Why might that be true? I think that few companies realize that there is such a thing as two perspectives. Among those that are aware of the User/Tester perspectives, many do not use the Users because there are few Field Services that offer both options and it is perceived to be difficult and expensive. It has been my experience that it is neither expensive nor difficult. It does, however, take organization and skill to execute properly.
I wonder how many really good ideas are killed in the testing phase because they are being scrutinized so closely when if the problem appeared in the market, it would never be considered or even seen?
For anyone interested in a couple of the User Protocols, see my previous Views on "Disposable Test Market" and "Testers vs. Users."
University of Georgia Masters of Marketing Research
Last week, I made my annual visit to meet the students of the MMR Program. I was surpassed that all had not selected their place of employment. I knew it was an off year for market research jobs, but I never thought I would see such a low number of offers for these students. If anyone is in need of some young, energetic, well-educated market researchers, call Ms. Jamese Meyer at 706.542.0426.
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