Most retailers use in-market tests to help inform decisions. But just running tests isn’t enough. Based on our work with dozens of retail brands, here are eight tips for improving your testing process.
- Grow your innovation funnel. You should never be left with just one idea to try – if it doesn’t work, what’s left? Ideas for testing should span marketing, merchandising, operations, pricing, and capital investments. Many retailers generate these ideas from a broad range of sources, including talking to customers and managers in the field, competitor actions, and importantly, analyzing their own transaction and customer data more deeply. Often ideas are filtered through taste panels, focus groups, surveys, and the like, which can help weed out a fraction of the ideas that may not work. Ultimately, however, all of the resulting ideas are unproven until they are tested in the real world. For example, new promotions could give away money to customers who would have paid full price for the promoted item, targeting Millennials could alienate other customer segments, etc. It’s easy to make any idea sound good and support it with customer feedback, management anecdotes, executive intuition, or survey data, but the reality is that many innovative ideas don’t work. Organizations need to have enough ideas in the funnel so that they can throw away the ones that don’t work and refine and target the ones that do.