February 12, 2007
- by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently I received a call from a Views reader asking about when it is appropriate to use Home Use Testing. My response was that it depended on the product category and where the product was in, relative to the development stage.
I try to always keep in mind that there are three basic stages in the development of a product, prior to moving into the brand research stage. The three stages of product development are: Exploratory, Experimental and Evaluative.
In the Exploratory Stage we are searching for a consumer need and identifying the basic product concept.
The Experimental Stage is devoted to the development of the product. That is, first, we develop a product that delivers on the promise. Then we enhance the positioning, package, form, physical characteristics and esthetics. Of the three stages, the experimental is by far the most active and time consuming. Of prime concern is the creation of a product that fulfills the consumers need. In the initial stage we are not concerned with consumer appeal, only the ability of the product to do the intended task. The objective is to determine how well the product delivers on the promise. The focus is developing the “Reason for Being.”
Only after we have created a product that delivers on the consumer need do we focus on consumer appeal.
The Evaluation Stage is consumed with the evaluation of the product, and all of its attributes, before moving into the Brand development stage.
Validation of the delivery on the promise is extremely important before moving the project forward.
When do you conduct a Home Use Test? It varies depending on the promise. If the promise is the absence or presence of a physical attribute, such as “less sugar," "contains bleach,” "fat free,” or "less salt," it can be evaluated in the Lab.
If the promise involves a sensory attribute such as “tastes better," "fresher odor," "super absorbent," or “softest & thickest,” these attributes can be confirmed through CLT testing.
Attributes such as “Gentle to Hands,” "Tough on Grease,” " Stain Fighting,” " Stain Lifter," "Color Safe Bleach,” "Brightens Colors,” or “Gentle to Fabrics,” must be confirmed through in use testing. Some people may argue that Lab testing can be used for validation of these attributes. True to some extent, but true validation should be conducted in the presence of typical in-use variations.
In all cases, Home Use Testing should be conducted before introducing any change into the brand development stage. Just as In-home use testing should be involved before any brand is introduced into the market.
Bottom Line: In-home use testing is confirmaion of the “Delivery of the Promise.”