Guidelines for Consumer Testing - guidance from ESN members
In this series ESN members give their solutions to the most frequently asked questions from product developers and marketers.
What is a good score for my product?
Anne Goldman, Director of Consumer Guidance Research at ACCE International, has found that when the research results from consumer product tests are presented to clients, the members of the audience often query whether or not their product has achieved a ‘good score’.
Anne goes on to explain that, “In the case of competitive benchmark testing where the test action standard is to achieve a significant preference for a product over the competitor, 60% is considered a good score for the percentage of consumers that prefer a product over its competitor.”
Furthermore, in consumer research testing there are several key questions that are routinely asked to determine the potential success of a product in the marketplace. Examples are: how much do you like or dislike this product, how likely would you be to purchase this product, and how well does this product meet your expectations? There are a number of factors that will ultimately determine product success. They include product composition, packaging, promotion, advertising support, and product availability. However, it is helpful to have benchmark scores that can be used to assist in predicting product success and guide recommendations.
These benchmark scores can take the form of mean scores. One example would be an overall opinion score of 7 out of 9 for where 1= dislike extremely and 9=like extremely. Or one could have a percentage rating of purchase intent: for example, a rating of 25%/65% in which 25% represents all purchasers who say they will definitely buy a particular product, and 65% represent the number of definite purchasers combined with the number of probable purchasers. One could also combine a percentage comparison of product expectations: for instance, an 80-85% rate that combines ‘meets expectations’, ‘exceeds expectations’, and ‘greatly exceeds expectations’. However, the choice of benchmark is dependent on the product category and the test conditions.
Anne also stresses that “it is useful to keep records of all test scores within a product category, and wherever possible, to monitor these scores against actual product performance in the marketplace”. These scores can be used to establish a set of benchmarks. She feels that this is particularly useful for benchmarking new product introductions. “In situations where there is no known benchmark score, the research design may include a benchmark product that is either a competitor that leads the category based on sales, or the best selling flavour in a range of product flavours”.
Another aspect that Anne notes is that scores obtained in research are related to the context of the research test. For example, blind product testing will typically give lower hedonic and purchase intent scores than branded testing. This will be particularly noticeable amongst consumers who are heavy users of the brand being tested, and for brands with a strong brand recognition amongst users and non users. Purchase intent scores will be dependent on the amount of information the consumer is given about the product..
The test location can also have an impact on scores. Central location testing (CLT) may yield different scores than home use testing (HUT). In HUT testing, a more realistic extended usage environment may result in higher scores than the immediate use application of a CLT, where the consumer is not exposed to all aspects of the product, such as opening the package, preparing the finished product, or consuming the product in a meal situation.
Product scores, such as overall liking, are also related to the product category, and whether the product has more or less functional versus emotional attributes. For example, an average confectionery product may achieve higher benchmark scores for overall liking than a good floor cleaner does.
In summary Anne states, “Overall, the answer to the question ‘What is a good score for my product?’ is dependent on the type of question being asked of the consumer, and the context of the product test.”
For further information on this topic, please contact:
Director of Consumer Guidance Research,
2575B Dunwin Drive,
ON L5L 3N9
Phone 905.828.0493 ext.244