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Concept Testing: A Comprehensive Guide for UX Professionals

In this article, we explain what concept testing is, what you can test and how to get started. To get you started, we also share with you some sample documents.

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What is concept testing?

Concept testing is a research method used to evaluate the feasibility and acceptance of new concepts, products or ideas before they are brought to market.

Concept tests are conducted in both market research as well as UX Research as they help to gain insights into the opinions, perceptions and preferences of (potential) customers. This allows companies to identify strengths and weaknesses, solve problems and gain valuable insights before major investments are made.

How is concept testing different from user testing?

User testing and concept testing are two types of UX research that are frequently used. User testing is deployed for products that have already been developed, e.g. a prototype or existing website, to test usability. Concept testing, on the other hand, is often deployed before a workable prototype or product has been created to evaluate whether the new concept or idea meets the needs and expectations of the target audience to determine whether it has a sufficient chance of success.

When do you conduct concept testing?

Concept tests are conducted in the field of market research as well as UX.

Concept testing in UX Research

UX concept testing is an important part of the research process, where it is advisable to carry out concept testing in the exploratory and validation phases - before the product is brought to market. 

Exploratory phase (discovery)
Concept testing is often carried out in the exploratory phase - the phase when no design has yet been created - to determine which ideas are most suitable for further development.

Validation phase
Concept testing is also often carried out the validation phase - once one or more designs have been created - to discover how potential customers react to them, possibly also to determine which concept is preferred and why.

Optimisation phase
Although slightly more unusual, it is also possible to carry out concept tests after the product launch in the optimisation phase. For instance, to map how users came into contact with the concept and to what extent it meets their needs.

Concept testing in market research

Concept testing is also conducted as part of market research. Unlike UX research, this often involves research on a non-digital product. For example, you can think of advertisements, commercials, voice-overs or a tangible product

Concept testing in the exploratory and validation phase

Typically, concept tests within market research are conducted before the idea is further developed into a prototype or finished product. As a result, several concepts are often tested, after which adjustments are made based on the insights and the final product is formed.

The benefits of concept testing

Concept testing offers several benefits for companies.

  • Risk reduction. By testing concepts before they are fully developed and launched, concept testing can help reduce risk. It identifies early any problems, pain points or shortcomings in the concept, preventing costly mistakes and failures in the later stages of product development and marketing. 
  • Competitive advantage. Conducting concept research reveals how to differentiate yourself from the competition. It gives you an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of similar products or services, after which the concept can be adapted to create a unique value proposition and gain a competitive advantage.  
  • Cost savings. Concept testing can be cost-saving by helping you to make targeted investments in developing and marketing concepts that are more likely to succeed. By understanding user needs and preferences, you can allocate resources more effectively and reduce the risk of expensive product launches that do not resonate with the target audience. 
  • Understanding user needs. As with other UX research methods, concept testing helps to gain deep insight into the needs, preferences and expectations of potential users. It enables companies to develop products and services that better meet the needs of the target audience, increasing the chances of success in the market.
  • Optimisation and iteration. Concept research allows you to optimise and iterate on concepts based on user feedback. This allows you to make quick adjustments and improvements to better align a concept with the needs and expectations of the target audience.

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What do you measure with concept testing?

Concept testing involves testing various aspects to assess the viability and attractiveness of a concept. Some key elements that are tested include:

  1. Overall acceptance and interest. Measures the level of acceptance and interest of potential customers towards the concept. This helps assess whether the concept is attractive enough for the target audience.
  2. Comprehensibility and clarity. Test whether the concept is clear and understandable to the target audience. This helps identify any confusing elements or information that does not come across well.
  3. Perceived added value and benefits. Examine the added value and benefits the concept offers to potential customers. This will give you an insight into the extent to which the concept meets the needs of the target group.
  4. Distinctiveness. Test whether the concept stands out from existing products or services on the market. This helps identify unique features or aspects of the concept that appeal to potential consumers.
  5. User-friendliness. Assess the user-friendliness of the concept. Test whether potential customers can easily understand and use the concept. 
  6. Visual appeal. Evaluate the visual aspects of the concept, such as design, layout and branding. This helps assess aesthetic appeal and consistency with the intended image and brand.
  7. Price perception. Examine how potential consumers perceive the price of the concept in relation to the value offered. This helps determine the pricing strategy and whether the concept is considered affordable.
  8. Possible improvements. Collect feedback on possible improvements or adjustments that potential consumers would like to see in the concept. This provides valuable insights for further development and optimisation.

What kind of products, services and ideas can you test in concept testing?

Concept testing can be applied to almost any product or service, whether online or offline. To make it a bit more tangible, we have worked out some examples below:

Example concept testing on an online service

Concept: A platform for booking personalised travel based on individual interests and preferences.

Purpose of concept research: The concept research aims to evaluate the interest, attractiveness and value of the platform for personalised travel. It focuses on understanding the needs of travellers, the value proposition of the concept and the functionalities that are essential to meet the expectations of the target audience.

What it can deliver: Concept research can provide insights into potential users' acceptance and interest in the concept, as well as feedback on the user experience, the booking process and the level of personalisation offered. These insights can be used to optimise the platform, improve the travel experience and provide a valuable service to travellers looking for personalised travel.

Example concept test for non-digital product

Concept: An innovative kitchen gadget that significantly reduces meal preparation time.

Purpose of concept research: The concept research aims to evaluate the interest, relevance and acceptance of the innovative kitchen gadget. It focuses on understanding the needs of cooking enthusiasts, the value proposition of the product and its usability.

What it can deliver: Concept research can provide insights into potential users' interest and acceptance of the kitchen gadget, as well as feedback on its functionality, design and the benefits it offers in terms of reducing meal preparation time. These insights can be used to further develop the product, make any improvements and offer a valuable kitchen tool.

What methods are used for concept testing?

In concept testing, both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to gather valuable insights.

Qualitative methods in concept research

In-depth interviewsIn-depth one-to-one interviews with potential customers are relevant for concept research because they provide insight into users' perceptions, needs and preferences, giving researchers a deeper understanding of how the concept can be improved.

Focus groups: Structured group discussions with potential customers allow interaction and exchange of ideas, enabling a wide range of perspectives to be gathered.

Observation: Observing potential customers as they use a prototype is relevant to concept research because it captures behaviour and reactions in a real context, giving insight into how users actually interact with the concept and where any pain points lie.

Quantitative methods in concept research

Online surveys: Distributing standardised online surveys is relevant for concept research because it quickly provides quantitative data on the perceptions, intentions and preferences of a large number of potential customers, allowing trends and patterns to be identified.

Telephone surveys: Conducting shorter telephone surveys of a representative sample of potential customers enables direct data collection and allows researchers to ask specific questions and collect feedback quickly.

A/B testing: Conducting A/B testing is relevant to concept research because it helps compare different concept variants and identify the most effective variant, allowing companies to make data-driven decisions in optimising the concept. It is also possible to include different variants in 1:1 interviews, which will make the data more qualitative in nature.

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Step-by-step plan for carrying out concept testing

To carry out concept testing effectively, it is important to follow a structured roadmap. Here is a general roadmap you can use:

  1. Step 1: Define your objectives and research questions by identifying the specific insights you want to gain and the aspects of the concept you want to evaluate, such as user acceptance, functionality or ease of use.
  2. Step 2: Create a concept description, mock-up or prototype for testing so that you have a tangible and representative example of the idea you want to investigate.
  3. Step 3: Select the appropriate method(s) for your concept research based on your objectives and available resources. This could include, for example, interviews, focus groups, surveys, observation or A/B testing.
  4. Step 4: Establish the criteria participants need to meet (more on that here.) Make sure they are representative of the target audience. User Sense can help you recruit respondents.
  5. Step 5: Conduct the concept study, collecting data and feedback from participants. This can be done through online interviews, group discussions, online surveys, observation of user interactions or comparing concept variants. Use our tool for this purpose.
  6. Step 6: Analyse and interpret the collected data to identify patterns, trends and insights. Use both qualitative and quantitative methods, such as categorising feedback, calculating statistics or identifying salient quotes.
  7. Step 7: Draw conclusions and identify areas for improvement based on the analysed data. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the concept, identify potential problems or opportunities, and determine which aspects need to be adjusted or improved.
  8. Step 8: Adjust the concept based on the findings and insights gathered during the study. Implement the recommended improvements or adjustments to better align the concept with users' needs and expectations.
  9. Step 9: Repeat the process if necessary, especially if significant changes have been made to the concept or new insights or questions have arisen. By repeating the concept research, you can continue to iteratively improve and optimise until you have a concept that fits well with the needs of your target audience.

Tips for conducting concept testing

Here are some tips from our research team when conducting concept testing:

  • Be clear and concise when describing the concept.
  • Select a representative sample of potential customers for your research.
  • Use both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather a wide range of insights.
  • Ask targeted and relevant questions to obtain valuable feedback.
  • Be open and receptive to criticism and suggestions from participants.
  • Provide a structured analysis of the data collected.
  • Use the results of concept testing to make improvements before bringing the product to market.

Questionnaire example concept testing

Getting started with concept testing yourself or just curious what kind of questions are commonly asked? Then download our free sample questionnaires.

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