A "qualitative evaluation" of the market potential for any new product concept is a security blanket for managers; it gives users a warm, snuggley -- and completely unfounded -- sense of well-being. Unless a quantifiable concept screening technique is used to provide hard data on key marketing issues -- stuff like trial intent, repeat purchase potential, competitive insulation, price/value relationships, personal relevancy and user profiles -- the NPD team is not getting a reality check.

In the final analysis it all boils down to this -- how many consumers will buy the new product and how often will they do it? It's a hard question. One capable of quantitative measurement, hard data response and 95% levels of confidence. Five-Box purchase intent and projected purchase cycles are the currency of quantitative research. It's available for as little as 150 consumers. And $30,000.

A new product concept screening technique should produce ten specific pieces of data; without the info managers just don't get the big picture. This tool provides all ten:

  • Trial intent: buying interest (traditional five box & averaged).
  • Repeat purchase: number purchases per year & units per purchase.
  • Profit potential: quality of consumer franchise (frequent or loyal users).
  • Competitive insulation: concept exclusivity (brand differentiation).
  • Price / value relationship: good value for the money.
  • Personal relevancy: concept fit with consumer identity & situational usage.
  • Source of volume: competitive contribution or cannibalism of corporate brands.
  • User profile: standard demographic breaks.
  • Attitudinal profile: custom attitudes/behavior patterns.
  • Target segmentation: definition of market segments & micromarket opportunities.
Using conventional "top-box" research methodology familiar to most package goods marketers, the tool screens concepts in a monadic or multiple-concept research design. Consumer response can be executed in geographically dispersed shopping malls or via pre-recruited direct mail.

Data can be compared to corporate norms or used to benchmark against established corporate standards/experience; in the absence of pre-established benchmarks it provides rank order prioritization of leading candidates.

The wealth of data also has direct bearing on subsequent business analysis and plans to commercialize winning concepts.

The tool has been used to screen seven new low calorie (NutraSweet) product concepts for McDonald's. Measured customer acceptance for McKesson's Value-Rite prescription buying service and identified the perceived shortcomings in the "me-too" technology. Domaine Chandon discovered the major impact a subtle change in package design would have on the core users that drove 90% of corporate volume. Continental Baking compared screening data to Five Box corporate norms and discovered even a breakthrough innovation -- properly positioned to pre-empt disbelief -- did not intimidate bread consumers.

As for potential applications, what NPD manager doesn't need to identify -- with statistical certainty -- the best of all viable concepts in which to make the $2,000,000 investment in new product development and commercialization?

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