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
- 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
- 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.
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.
After Brand Generation Round 2, we typically implement a Brand Screening
- 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
- Screen brand name and communications themes
- Evaluate linguistic considerations
- Creative Development --
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 -
The narrowed choices are refined and selection
made. This process may interact with an additional wave of screening
- 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
to 'watch' what people do
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.