According to researchers, food manufacturers waste more than £30.4 billion a year on failed product launches. However, thorough market research methods, such as central location testing and packaging research, can reduce the likelihood of failing with a new product launch.
Central location testing is essential for your product’s success, as it will provide you with real-time feedback from real consumers. When conducted correctly, the unbiased feedback received from this market research can help you adjust your food or drink product to meet your target market’s needs.
So, what exactly is central location testing?
Central location testing is a type of product market research that is conducted in a controlled environment. Unlike home-use testing, it is not conducted at the participant’s home, allowing for more objective feedback as all participants experience the same testing conditions.
Central location tests are often referred to as ‘hallway tests’ as they are frequently conducted in community settings such as supermarket aisles, shopping centres, churches, schools, and city-centre eateries. Tests can also be performed in formal testing labs, depending on the type of the product and the nature of the feedback you require.
Many companies prefer central location testing as it is a cost-effective way to get accurate data, making it beneficial to brands of all sizes.
Central location testing allows numerous participants to physically engage with your products in a neutral setting. The location allows you to have more control over the testing process, reduce bias, and produce more accurate results.
For example, if you are conducting a taste test, all participants can be given the same food product or the same beverage in the same order. All participants can also be monitored in the same way by the same researchers, which further reduces bias.
When launching a new product, it is essential to gain consumer feedback. Through central location testing, you can find out what the average consumer really thinks of your product. This research method allows you to understand your food product’s specific attributes, how it compares to competitors, and where to adjust it to better meet consumer’s needs.
An added benefit is the frank feedback researchers can receive from central location testing. Researchers can observe the participants’ body language, facial expressions, and sensory impressions first-hand. When using taste testing, for example, this observational data can be crucial for effective product development.
The different central location testing methods include the paired comparison test, sequential monadic test, and the repeat paired comparison test, to name but a few.
The paired comparison test gives researchers insight into how two products compare against each other. The test is conducted by providing participants with two products and a standardised set of criteria. Participants are then asked to assess the two products simultaneously against the standardised criteria provided.
During the sequential monadic test, participants assess two different products individually and then simultaneously. Consumers tend to exaggerate the difference between products when assessing them simultaneously.
To overcome this inherent bias, the paired comparison test sees participants assess the products individually first. After their initial individual evaluations, both products are to be assessed simultaneously. Participants can then rank the products more accurately.
The repeat paired comparison test, on the other hand, aims to reduce bias and subjective participant preferences for a product through repetition. During the test, participants compare the same set of products two or more times. The repetition ensures that the initial feedback provided by participants was accurate and not random.
For example, a product could be packaged in a blue container, but the participants could dislike the colour. This participant’s initial feedback may be biased because they dislike the packaging. However, after re-evaluating the same product, the participants will be more likely to move beyond their subjective dislikes, allowing for more accurate feedback.
Central location testing allows researchers to gather valuable data if the correct testing method is used. With so many different central location testing methodologies to choose from, you need to consult an experienced research company such as Wirral Sensory Services to determine the most suitable method.
Your central location test must also be designed and planned by qualified researchers to ensure that you get data that can truly benefit your product.
Here at Wirral Sensory Services, we have been providing central location testing services to leading food and beverage brands for over 20 years. Our team of trained researchers have helped many clients develop products that consumers love and trust.
Whether you are a startup testing a new product or an established brand trying to expand your market share, we can provide expert central location testing that helps you reach your objectives.
Are you ready to start central location testing for your product? Contact us today, and one of our expert team members will be on hand to help you start your consumer research journey.