Step 6: Market Testing
Products surviving to Step 6 are ready to be tested as real products. While, in some cases, the marketer accepts what was learned from concept testing (Step 3) and skips over market testing to launch the idea as a fully marketed product, many companies will seek more input from a larger group before moving to commercialization (Step 7). The most common type of market testing, used especially for consumer products sold at retail outlets, uses methods that make the product available to a selective, small segment of the target market (e.g., one city). This market is then exposed to a full marketing effort, just as they would be with most other products they could purchase. In conventional test markets, the marketer must work hard to get the product into the market by convincing distributors to purchase and place the product on their store shelves or website. In more controlled test markets distributors may be paid a fee for agreeing to make the product available for customers to purchase.
Another form of market testing for consumer products, which is even more controlled, uses methods to recruit customers to a “laboratory” store where they are given shopping instructions. Product interest is then measured based on customers’ shopping responses. Finally, there are several high-tech approaches to market testing including virtual reality and computer simulations. With virtual reality testing customers are exposed to a computer-projected environment and asked to locate and select products. With computer simulation testing customers may not be directly involved at all. Instead, certain variables are entered into a sophisticated computer program and estimates of a target market’s response are calculated.
Step 7: Commercialization
If market testing displays promising results the product is ready to be introduced to a wider market. Some firms introduce or roll-out the product in waves with parts of the market receiving the product on different schedules. This allows the company to ramp up production in a more controlled way and to fine tune the marketing mix as the product is distributed to new areas.