In standard concept testing practice, consumers may be invited to participate in a test if they use or possess the product. However, merely using or possessing a product is no guarantee that a consumer has the level of product knowledge that is necessary for judging the concept. Conducting a concept test with consumers who lack the necessary product knowledge may jeopardize the validity of the test results. That is, the results of such a concept test may not accurately indicate how consumers will evaluate the real product. To ensure the validity of concept test results, Jan Schoormans, Roland Ortt, and Cees de Bont suggest that consumers who are invited to participate in a concept test should possess a degree of product knowledge. When a consumer is asked to evaluate a concept, their product expertise allows them to understand product information faster, fill in missing information, and learn more easily. Consumers with product expertise are better able to discriminate between important and unimportant aspects of a product. They are also better able to infer benefits from a product's physical attributes. To explore the effects of consumer expertise on the quality of the evaluations provided by concept tests, the authors conducted two experiments, both of which resemble actual concept tests. The first experiment examines the effect of consumer expertise on the results of a concept test for a major innovation, Videotext. This experiment tests the hypothesis that the similarity between the evaluations of a concept and an actual product will be greater for consumers with a high level of product-category expertise than for consumers with low product-category expertise. The results of the experiment clearly support the idea that product-category expertise enhances a respondent's ability to evaluate concepts in a test of major innovations. From this, it is concluded that only respondents with high product-category expertise should be used for concept tests of major innovations. The second experiment explores the effects of product expertise on consumers' evaluations of a minor innovation, a redesigned coffee maker. This experiment tests two hypotheses. First, it is proposed that consumers with high product expertise give more consistent evaluations in a concept test than consumers with low product expertise. Second, it is suggested that consumers with product expertise generate more stable evaluations over time than consumers without product expertise. The results of this experiment clearly indicate that using consumers with moderate to high levels of product expertise is beneficial to the validity of the results from concept tests of minor innovations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation