In test marketing, a product is marketed/made
available for sale on a limited scale or in a sample market,
whereafter sales are measured. In this way, the exporter
can collect market data and measure the public's reaction
to the product before incurring the expense of a full-scale
regional or national sales launch.
Shop testing is the simplest and least reliable
method of test marketing. It is normally used to find
out which of two possible alternative characteristics
is preferred, i.e. one of two price levels, display packs,
bottle sizes etc. The method involves selecting two matched
groups, each comprising 20 to 24 shops in one or the other
form, and the resultant sales are compared after a number
of weeks have elapsed.
The principle of test towns is much the
same as that for shop testing except that two matched
towns are chosen for the purposes of running the test.
The method is most valuable when it is used as a basis
for establishing preferences about advertising schemes
or price levels. One of the problems associated with this
technique is finding towns which are typical of the country
as a whole. Regional differences in consumer attitudes
and behaviour often make a valid selection almost impossible.
In area testing, certain geographical areas
- usually selected in pairs - are used as a basis for
comparing two different approaches to launching a new
product. The product is put on the market in almost final
form, sales results are monitored, and at a later stage,
a consumer attitude survey is conducted.
The geographical regions chosen as test
areas must be reasonably typical of the country as a whole
and they must be big enough to produce sales figures that
can be multiplied upwards to arrive at a national sales
forecast. While area test marketing is a very useful tool,
it can be very costly and its results can sometimes be