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★ Promise and Values Concept Testing :: New Products Research★

Promise testing research is a form of concept testing. In promise concept testing we focus on values and benefits rather than features, or specific copy points, or price points. We focus on how and to whom the various promise appeal options resonate.

In our promise testing approach, we structure the value propositions, and then select, refine, and implement the optimum research method. We employ advanced concept testing research  measurement and research methods to assess concept marketing strength. We combine both qualitative and quantitative market research methods to get the best read so you can make profitable advertising and product decisions.

Staged Concept Testing

Staged or sequenced concept testing acknowledges the importance of the iterative creative, research, and concept refinement process involved in concept development.   We believe our concept testing research philosophy is what differentiates us from many other market research firms. These principles guide our concept development and testing study designs:

  • Concept testing is both a research, and a creative concept development activity.  Testing outcomes spawn creativity so we build it in to the process.
  • We focus on concept development rather than screening, which comes later.
  • Concept development requires an exploratory market research mode and mindset, starting first using exploratory qualitative research methods such as depth interviews among target audience members.
  • We address both tangible attribute clusters, and emotional appeals when creating concepts and building concept statements.
  • We move from qualitative depth interviews, to larger sample time-extended depth interviews, often employing online depth interviews which allow for repeated respondent interaction and concept incubation.
  • Using a hybrid research design, we blend the qualitative research mode with quantitative concept ranking, this to refine concept development and assessment of appeal.
  • Thus, our approach to screening concepts favors smaller sample multiple waves rather than one large sample wave.
  • Finally, we acknowledge that a full understanding of concept appeal must be assessed in a mode with maximum realism.  Here's a case when we believe that online market surveys have a strong advantage as they allow use of a variety of exhibits for the testing of advertising concepts, product concepts, brand concepts, and strategic positioning concepts.


We use these data collection technologies for concept testing research:

Many concept testing engagements are an integral part our Concept Development Consulting assessments and recommendations.

  • Brand Base Research
    Here we gauge the landscape evaluating existing available branding research, client and competitive advertising, and brand name architecture. We seek to uncover existing comparative brand equity marketing information and knowledge. As a part of this brand equity discovery process, we conduct far reaching interviews with client management, field sales, product development and customer service staff.  We talk to sales people in the channel about their own brand preferences and their perception of customers.  We cap off Brand Base Research with an initial round of qualitative depth interviews or focus groups. This qualitative research has a branding and brand name equity focus. We typically include a small sample of client product customers and those loyal to competitor brands.
  • Brand Qualitative Research
    We employ a unique qualitative methods. Our typical starting point is a small sample round of depth interviews.  In the beginning stages of brand development, this method can be far more useful than focus groups which may come later.  Here, we use a non-directive design and style, combined with projective interviewing techniques to uncover buyer motivations and brand perceptions. We do not bombard respondents with a laundry list of questions, but rather, let them talk freely in a wide ranging manner about their brand experience with client brands and competitive brands.  We may continue the qualitative exploration with a larger sample using an online qualitative time-extended method which combines both qualitative and quantitative assessments.  If certain conditions exist, we may add focus group discussions to the qualitative market research work.
  • Brand Screening Survey
    After Brand Generation Round 2, we typically implement a Brand Screening Survey:   
    • Test hypotheses developed from the Branding Qualitative Research. These pertain to segmentation, strength of brand and category perceptions, buyer attitudes and beliefs, and product behavior patterns.
    • Screen positioning concepts using concept statements and appeal ratings 
    • Screen brand name and communications themes 
    • Evaluate linguistic considerations


  • Creative Development -- Brand Generation
    We interact with your creative team in the development of concepts and ideas aided by findings of the Creative Branding Research components.  We may act as a team participant or contract with you for full management of the creative development process.  
  • Refining Options - Making Decision
    The narrowed choices are refined and selection made.  This process may interact with an additional wave of screening research.
  • Go-To-Market Plan
    If our assignment includes assisting with the Market Plan, we act as facilitators and managers in the execution stage in the introductory phase.  If the plan includes a live market test, a new advertising campaign, or repositioning, we may design branding, advertising, sales, and product success metrics and methods as a part of your marketing information system. 
Mixing creativity and market research

Just great chefs, or potters at the wheel both evaluate and create at the same time, a successful brand development and branding research process requires the same blended intuitive and analytical mindset.  Success comes with creative branding ideas and astute market understanding.  Often, branding research can present a dilemma for marketing decision-makers and a tug-of-war among the pros they rely upon. Creative and advertising people -- whether inside or agencies -- who conceive exciting concepts may voice that brand ideas come from creative insight and genius, not research. Research and analytical types might espouse a "customer-driven" approach to branding and brand opportunity discovery. Our view is to design a process that draws on both: creative power, and marketing information.  Further, we view branding research as useful primarily to feed, rather than judge, the process. This is especially true with brand concept creation and brand naming assignments. 

Our tact is a process we call "creative branding research." Powerful positioning and the branding to execute the positioning strategy, first, requires understanding the marketplace. The Strategy Newsletter talks about the notion of finding and owning a market space as the basis of successful brand positioning. The issue is "How do we find and own a market space and build or rebuild a brand?"

Branding Research Method Discussion
Qualitative Research: more detail...Time-Extended Online Depth Interviews...
Once hypotheses about brand positioning and market opportunities are articulated from our initial limited round in our Brand Base Research, and initial depth interviews, we may expand the qualitative exploration to a broader set of Time-Extended Online Depth Interviews. This unique method engages each participating respondent over a period of one week or more thinking about and reporting their perceptions in a running dialog. We have successfully used this innovative tool and process with many high profile clients. While primarily qualitative, our online implementation has some important quantitative features for segmentation and attitude measurement.
The Value of the Qualitative Step...

We believe sound qualitative research is a vital component in decision-oriented marketing research. It is especially useful in developing hypotheses about consumer motivations. These help us understand from the consumer's perspective and in the consumer's own language. Qualitative research, which is characterized by free-ranging, open-ended interviews among a limited number of respondents, is primarily an exploratory motivational technique. We use it here to identify important marketing variables and to suggest the relationships among those variables, to focus the creative process and lay the design groundwork for the later quantitative screening research stage.

The main point here is the value of getting in-depth insight into the buyer belief and attitude structure, and use this insight for business strategy development. For example, when scanning for strategic opportunities they can uncover important consumer and business buyer attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that may precede an emerging trend. Non-directive techniques and projective research techniques are especially useful in defining buyer motivations .

What about focus groups?

Customer discussion groups -- another term for "marketing research focus groups" -- can be useful in the early stages of strategy decision-making.  For Creative Branding Research, we tend to prefer in-person or online time-extended depth interviews, our preferred methods of getting inside the buyer's mind which may offer equally rich, or better, marketing information at an overall lower cost. 

We will recommend focus groups when the following conditions are important...

  • idea generation among prospects and customers
  • observing group interaction
  • little is known about the product or brand category
  • observing emotions as brand, products, or ads are revealed

While group discussions are very popular among qualitative techniques, there are many important "do's and don'ts". It is critical that the researcher knows how, when and where they can be used, and where they should be avoided. The January 2001 issue of the StrategyNewsletter updates the basics and some new issues brought on by the advent of online focus groups, and other tech offshoots.

Content analysis to understand the brand language

Aside from market research focus group discussions and depth interviews, we might use other methods to understand customer brand perceptions and screen your branding options. Content analysis is a process of examining customer diary entries, articles by observers of behavior, advertising, and other language used by advertisers, customers and suppliers in the product category.  

Ethnography to 'watch' what people do

Our branding exploration research may involve special observational qualitative methods such as ethnographic studies. Photo ethnography,  uses various methods, such as self-directed-video to watch what people do in and around the brand category.  We watch as customers and prospects engage in store shopping, using products in their home, and their interactions with other people when the product category or brand is involved.  A pet food company may employ a video ethnography study and ask pet owners to video tape their pet. 

Case Examples

Contact us for more information about our Creative Branding Research capabilities.

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