How to Test Images, Messages, Packaging, and Product Concepts with Surveys

A concept testing survey turns ideas and alternatives into actionable data

concept-imageDid you know that surveys are an effective, cost-efficient way to test design concepts including ad messaging, logos, packaging mock-ups, and product concepts?

It’s true! A concept testing survey helps you gather valuable feedback about an idea before you launch it. You can test any marketing idea, from logos to messages to new product concepts, with a survey.

Let’s say, for example, you’re trying to decide between a couple of package designs for your product–and you want to figure out which one would really move the needle for your business.

Package A has your logo and a picture of the product—and Package B just has your logo. Which will perform better with consumers?

Here’s how you could use a concept test survey to do your research to find the best packaging concept:

1. Define success.

Write down the goal for your research. In other words, what decision do you want to make? In this case, your goal could be something like, “I want to know which package design resonates most with consumers.”

2. Make a hypothesis about your results.

What do you think the outcome will be…and why? Write down your hypothesis (predicted outcome) first. Your hypothesis helps guide your question-writing. What do we mean by this?

For example, your hypothesis could be, “The package design with both a picture of the product and the logo will outperform a package with just our company logo because consumers 1) recognize and trust our brand but 2) want to see what they’re getting.”

Now you have guidance for which questions you should be asking—the hypothesis forces you to consider the factors that drive your success (e.g., brand loyalty, trust, transparency) and guides you to ask the right questions.

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3. Create the survey.

For a packaging concept test to be successful, go back to your original goal to think about the questions you want to ask.

  • Appeal: “I want to know which package design resonates most with consumers.” If customers see an image of your product on your package and your competitor’s package is just a logo, they may be more attracted to your product on a store shelf. Appeal measures affinity, which is a strong indicator of purchase intent. You may want to test your packaging concept in multiple contexts, like alongside competing products, or on a landing page.
  • Intent: Could the concept drive behavior change? Ask customers if the proposed design(s) would compel them to take a desired action (e.g., learn more, purchase).
  • Recall: Do customers remember anything about the package after they see it? What did the copy say? What was the image on the front? You can measure how memorable your concept is and see which design is stickiest.

Speaking of memory, remember you can also ask customers why they responded a certain way. In other words, why is the design with the product image more appealing than just the logo? Is it because customers want to see it before they pick the box up off the shelf? Does it help them make a purchase decision more quickly?

4. Decide who needs to take the survey.

Are you targeting a specific demographic (e.g. 18-24 year olds, moms, etc.)? Or maybe you want to reach your competitor’s customers? Sourcing respondents for your survey can be tricky. That’s why we built SurveyMonkey Audience, home to our community of more than 3.5 million people to help you reach the exact people to provide you the answers you need.

5. Collect and analyze your results.

You sent the survey: Great! Now what?

  • Calculate the results from your survey. Depending on who completed the survey, you may want to review insights in aggregate or by segment (e.g., age, gender, etc). In many cases, segmentation can drastically affect what you uncover from seemingly ordinary data.

This can help you understand how different target demographics respond to your packaging design—and can inform which decisions you ultimately make about developing new product packaging.

For example, when looking at your data in aggregate, it might appear that Concept A was the most appealing. But when you segment the data, you might discover that Concept B was significantly more popular with 18-24 year olds than older demographics. Therefore, you likely want to use Concept B packaging in stores frequented by young adults.

Survey data analysis takes time and careful consideration. Here’s a handy guide to analyzing survey data:

  • Evaluate against your goal: Did the results meet your stated goal and definition for success? Did you learn which package design is going to drive more sales? If not, consider removing questions from your survey that aren’t getting you actionable data—and add questions that cover concepts you want to know more about.
  • Compare to your original hypothesis: How did the results compare to your hypotheses? Did customers prefer the version with the product image? If not, why? If your results don’t match your hypothesis, the next time you come up with a new concept, revisit your original hypothesis (and your survey results) to guide your product packaging design.

6. Iterate and refine your learnings over time.

Once you have your initial results, you may have even more questions. Your initial results showed that customers prefer the version with the product image, but how big should the image be? Should you show additional product shots on the sides or back of the package? How prominent should the logo be? Before you make a final packaging decision, be sure you have asked and answered all of your questions.

Generally, you need to consider many factors, including weighting segments against one another, when performing concept testing data analysis. Here’s how we did it when we ran a concept test on paid advertisements.

Want help running your concept testing survey? SurveyMonkey Audience can create, send, and analyze your survey results for you—or just find you the right people to get you the results you need.