The problems with traditional
product testing were shown dramatically in 1985 when Coca Cola carried out
market research at a cost of $4 million, looking for a new formulation to
replace the classic Coke. Despite the fact that the New Coke was preferred to
Classic Coke by 55% of people in taste
tests, the alienation of a significant number of consumers who preferred the
classic formulation resulted in a public outcry by Coca Cola loyalists.
Basically they were saying to America
dont mess with our Coke.
The major reason for the failure of
the research into the New Coke was that it was assumed, incorrectly, that a
better tasting formulation more like Pepsi would sell more Coke. This is a
basic assumption that underlies most conventional concept and product testing.
The faulty research failed to
reveal that the strength of the Coke brand far outweighed small preferences in
taste. In fact in carrying out typical blind product testing Coca Cola
management had badly underestimated the power of their brand. As Donald R
Keough, President of Coca Cola said in explaining the research debacle: We did
not understand the deep emotions of so many of our customers for Coca Cola.
questioning like the following used in product testing leads to inflated
estimates of importance. Usually respondents are asked:
In buying a small car how important is it to you that it gets high
mileage per gallon?
They are then
asked to indicate the importance on a five-point scale ranging from 1 = Not
important to 5 = Extremely important
But if we also
ask about the relative importance of styling and warranty then we shall likely
find that these matters are just as important as m.p.g.
conjoint task is more realistic. Respondents may be asked: Which of the following small cars
would you choose to buy?
2009 Chevrolet Aveo5
1.6-liter, 107-hp four-cylinder engine
27 mpg city/34 mpg hwy
AM/FM stereo with AUX jack
3 year/36K warranty
Comfort and quality rating 8/10
2009 Kia Rio5
1.6-liter, 110-hp four-cylinder engine
27 mpg city/32 mpg hwy
AM/FM/CD/MP3/SIRIUS, USB-AUX jack
5 year/60K warranty
Comfort and quality rating 7/10
Transmission – manual
analysis has developed in the past two decades to become much easier to use in
research. Conjoint analysis has always been a powerful research technique
because, rather than asking consumers to rate the attributes of products,
something consumers are not particularly good at, it presents products as a
bundle of attributes and asks respondents to choose between the products. Thus
the conjoint task for consumers is very similar to what they do when shopping.
analysis uses powerful experimental designs and statistical techniques to
measure the effect each attribute of a product has on consumer choices.
Conjoint designs lead to much more powerful research than the typical ex
post-facto designs of typical concept research.
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