This blog explores some of the “top-tips” that we use to help leading brands to screen and identify the ideas that are most appealing to their target consumers and key stakeholders.
1. Online Tools for Fast Results and Consumer Feedback
Once you have developed and refined a range of new ideas, look to quickly identify the ones with greatest potential. Our overnight fastSCREEN™ consumer panels are now run with Zip-Zap Ideas®, for a faster and more cost-effective way of screening "leading ideas" online with target consumers and key stakeholders. Available in all major markets, they are normally run to screen between 24 and 48 mini-concepts that appear in random order. The results typically help to identify the 4-6 “winning ideas” that are significantly more appealing versus the average idea tested, or against a known benchmark. Watch the video below for more details.
2. Refine and Test Ideas Using a Consistent Format
Before testing concepts or claims with consumers, take time to ensure that all ideas are written in a consistent style, format and of a similar length (see format below). When screening a wide range of ideas (+12-20), we recommend that you use a “mini-concept” format, using no more than 400 characters to describe the main idea. Consumers simply don't have time to read a longer concept in a test, or more importantly, when comparing ideas when shopping online or in a store. So, keep concepts tight and ensure that the main benefit and claim “hits the reader early”. Depending on the project, it might make sense to employ a professional copy writer to complete this work, especially if the original ideas were submitted by people who don't have a strong grasp of the final language that you are using for the test.
3. Screen Multiple Ideas with Targeted Online Panels
For most projects that we run, a specific profile of target consumer is recruited from larger online panels that are available in key markets. Consumers are typically recruited against an agreed screening criteria, 24-48 hours before the concept screening survey is launched. Selected consumers are then sent details and instructions via email to complete the survey online within a 12-24 hour time frame, with reminders being sent out to specific profiles as required. For more complex projects, the recruitment of the panel can take longer if a more specific consumer profile is required. Normal security steps should be in place to screen out “professional respondents” or multiple responses from a single IP address.
4. Use the Study Objectives to Determine the Size of the Panel
The number of consumers required for each panel really depends on the objective of the study, and the level of statistical accuracy that you want from the results. For example, when screening 20-40 mini-concepts, the objective is generally to identify the top 6-8 ideas that are most appealing. With this objective, a panel of just 100 can still help highlight “winning ideas”, based on a 90% level of confidence, that are plus or minus 5% points versus the average idea tested, or against a known benchmark. For greater levels of accuracy, a panel of 400 consumers can help identify “winning ideas” that are plus or minus 2.5% points versus the average, or the known benchmark. There are a range of online tools that you can use to calculate the optimum sample size e.g. overall population of your target consumer, with % confidence level and % margin of error required.
5. Include a Known Benchmark
As indicated above, including a “known benchmark” can help a team to better understand the results of a given test. When screening 20 concepts, we recommend including at least one benchmark based on an idea that has tested well in previous studies e.g. a winning or outstanding idea from a BASES Snapshot. Alternatively, we look to include a concept that is based on a successful product that is already in the market, including an idea that might have been launched by a competitor. The benchmarks should be written in the same style and format as all the other ideas. When looking at the results, we are then looking for ideas that were “significantly more appealing” based on a 90% or 95% level confidence.
6. Use Hall Testing for More Sensitive Projects
Hall Testing provides a more expensive alternative to online panel testing. However, it should be considered if it is too sensitive or too difficult to share the ideas in a fully online environment, or if it is too hard to recruit consumers for online testing. When we use this approach, we would invite around 100-200 target consumers to come to a central location over a 12-24 hour period. Ideas are either presented in printed handouts, or consumers are provided with tablets (as in the image below). They would then complete the survey, but with a moderator present to supervise or answer any questions. This approach is also recommended where you want to get deeper consumer comments, or where we are looking for consumers to co-create new ideas and solutions.
7. Test Randomised Unbranded Ideas and Look For Comments
Ensure that you test ideas in a randomised way, both on a single page or where a test might involve ideas shown on multiple pages. In addition, if you are just looking to assess the relative merits of different ideas, it may make sense to remove any branding associated with the idea. And depending on the objective of the project, you might ask consumers to add comments. When we use Zip-Zap Ideas® (see image below), if the focus is to primarily identify the ideas with greatest potential, we only ask consumers to add comments to ideas that they like the most. However, for longer surveys, the Zip-Zap platform can also be used to capture comments for ideas that consumer don't like.
8. Take a Little More Time When Testing in Multi-Markets
Our Zip-Zap Ideas® platform is designed to test the same mini-concept in up to six different markets or languages, although most projects only look to test in up to three. When running multi-language concept screening for international brands, the core concept is normally written and approved in English. We then allow at least 5 more days to refine and agree the different market translations. This typically involves several iterations with a copy writer, a translator and the Core Project team; to ensure that each version is a true and accurate translation of the core concept.
9. Look for Significant Winners and Sense Check Results
As outlined in points 4 and 5 above, when looking at the results of a typical study, we look for “winning ideas”, that are significantly more appealing versus the average of all ideas tested, or against a known benchmark. We generally look at results based on a confidence interval of 90%, although this can be increased. For example, if a brand team are looking for greater certainty, or if the project is looking to only select 1 or 2 winning ideas to take forward. We then look to “sense check” results by comparing results between different profiles or between two markets with similar attributes. The graph below shows the “significant winners” from a recent Zip-Zap project where we tested new product claims with different consumer age groups.
10. Be Prepared to Go Back and Start Again
If your consumer survey doesn't highlight an outright winner, be prepared to refine and retest leading ideas based on comments captured during the survey, or run a quick online brainstorming session with your project team or external Creative Agents if fresher thinking is needed. If that doesn't work, start again and look for stronger and more compelling ideas and claims that are linked to deeper insights as outlined in the video below. Alternatively, if you keep failing to find a winning concept, especially against a known competitor, the project might be telling you something…..to explore other categories where there are unmet needs that you can more easily exploit.