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Concept testing

When you have a big idea that you want to get right, it can save you a lot of time and money to concept test it before you bring it to the world. Concept testing allows you to refine a product concept, ad campaign, new logo, or even a landing page by getting feedback directly from your target market. It can be as simple and quick or iterative and sophisticated as you need.

What is concept testing?

Whether you’re in the early stages of vetting new product ideas, or are deep into a product development cycle, you may want to consider testing your concept. With concept testing, you can test your ideas with customer segments and collect valuable insights into whether your product idea will be a winner or a flop. 

A concept testing survey helps teams evaluate product development, an ad campaign, or even a message or claim, by getting feedback from customer segments who make up the target market. Whether you want to test a single concept, or compare different concepts with an A/B test, taking the time to test before you execute can help you avoid mistakes, tailor products for potential customers, and arm you with data to sell your ideas throughout your company.

Using a concept testing survey makes it easy to get accurate feedback from respondents. You can use an online panel to select a demographic that would be your ideal customer segment. Then create a questionnaire that reveals what you want to learn about your idea.

Many of today’s sophisticated survey solutions are based on expert methodology that allows you to upload visuals or stimuli of your product idea. Your concept might be imagery for a new package, video, or logo. Using visuals, you can compare two concepts side by side, and get immediate feedback from potential customers on their preferences. This type of concept testing survey makes it easy for respondents to evaluate your ideas quickly, and weigh in with accurate opinions.

Here are some ideas to help beginners and pros get started with concept testing to collect data and insights on ideas before launch. And when you’re ready to delve deeper, make sure to also read our comprehensive guide to concept testing.

How and why to perform concept development tests

The definition of concept testing is the process of getting an idea evaluated by your target audience before it becomes available to the public. It includes anything from product concepts to ad campaigns.

As an example, say a marketing team holds a day-long brainstorming session to come up with ideas for an advertising campaign. When the session is over, there are dozens of options on the table, and a few seem like real winners. Here are some questions that a marketing professional might want to know the answers to before launching a campaign:

  • Does this ad stand out against my competitors’ ad?
  • Does this ad capture viewers/listeners attention?
  • Do you recognize this brand?
  • Would you trust this brand?
  • Which button would make you buy?

The answers to these questions make it easy to choose a concept to go with, and they help hone the final product.

Doing a concept testing project like the example above can take a lot of time but it ends up saving your organization time and money. Consider the following two benefits of concept testing:

Want to test a concept with customers or your target market? Learn more about your testing options.

1. It prevents you from choosing bad ideas. Companies of all shapes and sizes are vulnerable to making mistakes if they don’t test their ideas first. Below are specific examples as well as a study, showing that when a bad idea moves forward, it can be costly.

  • A brand whose online ad is perceived as annoying is, all else equal, $.153 more expensive per ad displayed. Given the number of times an ad gets shown, this can become expensive, quickly
  • Package design can make or break product sales. Cigarette maker Marlboro, for example, was mandated by the Australian Government to stop using its logo and typeface on its packaging. This contributed to the biggest decline in Australia’s purchase and consumption of cigarettes in 20 years
  • Logo designs can cost brands millions of dollars. This makes the prospect of failure all the more scary. As a modern day example, BP (Britain-based oil and gas company) spent 136 million pounds on a new logo that’s been widely controversial

Unfortunately, the consequences of pursuing a bad idea are often significant.

A bad idea leads your business to have a negative reputation, which heavily influences your organization’s ability to grow, or even, remain stable. For example, the process of hiring becomes 10% more expensive when a company has a bad reputation, while the cost of retaining workers grows by more than 20%. And when your bad idea impacts a customer’s experience? 95% will share it with others, deterring prospects from purchasing your products or services.

2. It can help you get others in your company behind your ideas. Do you ever have ideas that you’re confident will work but you can’t get buy-in from your team? Proving that an idea is popular with consumers can convince your team to pursue it. After all, if consumers in your target market like it, who’s to say it won’t work?

Concept testing seems to be essential for marketers and product managers. But how do they really feel about it? To find out, we went ahead and surveyed them directly. Here’s what they told us:

72% of advertising professionals said it’s important to test an ad before it’s launched. Doing so can make the ad more successful, they said, because effective ads stem from an in-depth understanding of what consumers really want (and what they really don’t).

Product-focused managers strongly agreed: 85% said that testing is vital to their success at work.

Despite the importance they all place on testing, less than half of those we polled actually conduct concept tests. This means creating your own test may be a big opportunity to get a leg up on the competition.

You can also widen your competitive advantage by improving your ability to write surveys. For help on writing survey questions, check out our post on eliminating order bias. And before you look at your survey responses, learn about Top 2 Box scores.

Ways to use concept testing questions

How can you apply these concept testing methods? We’re glad you asked! All sorts of business challenges can be solved with the right type of testing. Here are a few examples:

Logo testing

Need to understand how customers might respond to your new logo? Or, trying to figure out if your new logo communicates a benefit (like trust, innovation, or fun)? Online surveys are a great way to test different creative concepts and designs—to ultimately come up with a logo that best visually communicates your brand.

To help you brainstorm your survey questions, check out our survey-methodologist approved Logo Testing Survey Template.

Don't want to create your own logo testing survey? Learn more about how SurveyMonkey's Logo Design Analysis makes it simple to get fast, impactful feedback about your logo designs.

Website design

Redesigning your site or launching a new one? Sharing your design concepts with people who will one day interact with them is a great way to see what a sample of your target population thinks—and of course, make sure you get everything right.

Before you begin collecting feedback on your website, take a look at the questions from our Website Feedback Survey Template.

Ads, landing pages, and conversions

Many online marketers test headlines, images, and content on their websites to identify winning combinations of messages and designs. Which ad tends to grab the most eyeballs? Is the ad compelling enough to click on? And do the people who click become customers soon after? This method of testing can give your conversion rate optimization efforts a real boost.

Move beyond the numbers and hear from individuals directly. Their feedback might push you in a new direction you hadn’t anticipated or validate what the numbers you already have to tell you. If you need help brainstorming, our Ad/Copy Testing Survey Template can help you ask the right questions.

Get fast, reliable feedback on your ad concepts without having to set up your own survey with our Ad Creative Analysis.

Pricing and upgrades

Planning to offer consumers an incentive for upgrading to a new product or service? Thinking about a new pricing system? Use migration path tests to assess initial reactions, and spot the key features and benefits consumers are looking for. Then, develop upgrade tests to see if your new product line will result in a boost in sales.

Name testing

The name of your company or product has a big impact on its success in the target market. It tells them what you offer, the benefits they can expect to receive, and can even elicit certain feelings. To help you test brainstorm the right questions for testing either company or product names, check out our Name Testing Survey Template.

SurveyMonkey's Brand Name Analysis can get you crucial feedback from your target market on your brand name, without having to spend time on survey design.

Price Testing Survey Template

How price-sensitive are consumers in your target market? And are they typically satisfied or dissatisfied with the value of products in your category? Find out with our Price Testing Survey Template.

Package testing

Learn what your packaging tells consumers about your product. Assess if it’s unique, visually appealing, and considered high quality by your target audience with our Package Testing Survey Template.

Get high-quality feedback on your packaging designs, without going through the trouble of creating a survey with SurveyMonkey's Packaging Design Analysis.


Will your messaging resonate with your target audience? Does it effectively communicate the value your product or services have to offer? And is it believable? Ask your target audience to know for sure. It may also be worth checking with employees to see if they both understand and incorporate your messaging into their day-to-day work as well.

Find out if your messaging and claims resonate with your target audience quickly and effectively, with SurveyMonkey's Messaging and Claims Analysis.

Having trouble finding the right people to take your survey? Test any and every concept on your target market using SurveyMonkey Audience.

Product and concept development

Find out which features a product should include, and which ones add nothing to your bottom line. This often involves determining the manufacturing quality of your product and understanding its ease of use. Use product concept and usability tests to ensure your product meets customers’ expectations.

Before you launch your survey, read about the best ways for asking product-specific feedback. Also, check out our survey methodologist-approved, Market Research Product Survey Template.

If this all sounds too time-consuming for your product testing project, our Product Concept Analysis solution can help you get feedback about your product concept, without having to design a complex survey.

Concept testing comes in a variety of forms—from product concepts, ads, or potential names for your company/product. The process of testing things on your target audience helps your team find out what works and what doesn’t before deciding how to best move forward. Over time, this helps your team focus on executing the best ideas while staying away from mistakes that leave a lasting impression—like this.

Top template:

Market Research — Product Survey Template

Ensure a successful product launch with feedback from customers.

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Market Research — Service Survey Template

Define target markets, measure brand awareness and grow your customer base.

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Website Feedback Survey Template

Find how why users do what they do when they visit your site.

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Learn more about SurveyMonkey's expert solutions for concept testing