Concept development is the process of developing product concepts, and refining them repeatedly till they convey the envisioned product in a compelling and credible manner.
A product concept is the depiction of an envisioned product. The depiction usually takes the form of a concept board that describes the idea in text, image and/or drawing. A prototype is not recommended at this stage where the concept has yet to undergo substantial refinement.
A cross-functional project team which importantly includes R&D is recommended. To engage consumers in the development effort, the process takes the form of a two or three-stage sequential series of group discussions, sometimes referred to as concept development clinics.
In the first stage of group discussions, the concept development team members engage with respondents, introduce them to the product concepts and work with them to explore, prioritise and evolve ideas. After the group discussions, the project team reviews the thoughts that emerged and incorporates them into the refined concept boards.
Subsequent stages of group discussions aim to refine and refine the concepts so that they depict the marketing insight and product benefit in a compelling and credible manner. The improved concept boards are now ready for concept screening.
Concept screeners help prioritize and select the most promising among a broad range of concepts. In consumer marketing, typically quantitative research methods are used for concept screening, whereas in business marketing qualitative approaches will be used especially where the customer base is limited.
Since no prototype samples are available for respondents to use for evaluation, the sales forecasting capabilities of concept screeners is limited. Unlike simulated test markets, only ballpark volume estimates based on assumed repeat performance can be generated in concept product tests. These screeners, however do serve their intended purpose to prioritize concepts. More details about concept screeners for FMCG products are covered under Simulated Test Markets in Chapter Product Validation.
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