The rush to get a new product or service developed and into the market, sometimes puts a project team under both time and financial pressure. As such, often a team feels they can cut a few corners and take their concepts from idea directly to quant. Sure, you save some time and maybe some money in the the short-term budget by skipping qualitative, but in the long run, a concept might under perform NOT because it is a bad “idea” but because it hasn’t been vetted before testing. A round of qualitative can help prevent some of these typical shortcomings in a marketing concept.
Not having consumer/customer language – We often forget that our target audience doesn’t spend as much time “over thinking” the product or service as much as a typical brand manager. Oftentimes, the customer h a somewhat uncomplicated reason for delighting in an offering. Unfortunately, clients can get stuck in the “manufacturer-speak” when writing concepts. The language in the concept might convince management you’ve got something great to offer, but concepts laden with “insider language” are often nixed by potential buyers for not speaking to them in a relevant and personal way.
Polarizing name choice – The name that you and your team might think is “cute” or “transparent” just might not be. This is an area that is often overlooked by marketers and managers. In some cases, the offering has a code name during development that takes on a life of its own. Suddenly a name that meant “everything” to the insider becomes the name/version of the concept that is tested for a “go/no go” market decision. Similarly, the team may spend so much time on development of the offering that the name never gets sorted out. Names can be very polarizing. The last thing you want to find out in your quant test is that the name diminished your purchase intent so you haven’t gotten a fair read on your product/service.
Logic doesn’t tie together– The marketer and R&D specialist understand all the inner workings of a product or service. They are close to the development process and have probably spent more waking hours thinking about it than virtually anyone on the planet. Unfortunately, what becomes common sense to the “insider” may not be quite so obvious to the target audience. A round of qualitative provides an objective review that can ensure that the concept isn’t confusing and the reasons to believe actually are believable and payoffs the promised benefit(s).
Too technical – Generally, a concept needs to communicate the ‘big idea” for the buyer, regardless if the end user is a consumer, a doctor, a CEO, etc. As knowledge experts, the tendency is to want to showcase how smart we are, rather than simply communicating the compelling idea. A good example might be Intel – there is a lot of engineering to make a high quality, high performance computer chip, but as an end-buyer we’ve been educated that Intel stands for quality. As such, telling a buyer that a computer has ‘Intel inside” is what they need to know to help them feel confident their PC will work well. It is the K.I.S.S theory – “Keep It Simple Silly” that a round of qualitative can help to sort out.
Single-minded – A client favorite is to tell a potential buyer everything that a product or service can potentially offer. While a concept like this will test well in quant because it will offer “something for everyone,” it will become impossible to deliver one selling idea that will satisfy all those who loved the concept. A round a qualitative helps to ensure that only one idea is communicated, so delivering it will not be impossible. In qualitative, if the question of “what is the main idea?” gets many unique answers, you can be pretty sure no one will know what main idea is really driving the win.
So don’t be short-cited and think the near-term budget considerations are more important than a final check to ensure optimized concepts. A little money spent on qual, might avert a costly mistake down the line.