Product Concept Test: Evaluation on New City Car Model

This case study was consolidated in October 2020.

 

Project Background

After taking international integration and globalization, Vietnam has been witnessing a drastic economic growth, especially in several spearhead industries, including fundamental infrastructure and facilities development and distribution. Along with the improvement in personal income and living qualities, demand of essential goods and products that serve life purposes, typically vehicles and transportation, has increased substantially.

Being one of the biggest automobile manufacturer in Vietnam and internationally, the Client provides a wide range of automobile products, covering different segments to satisfy the fast-growing demand of Vietnamese customers. To aid for strategic decision making of business development, the Client has worked closely with B&Company in a number of research projects to understand customer demand, buying behavior in different car segments, evaluate potentiality of new product models or new business direction for automobile trading.

One typical example is the concept testing project in early 2020. The Client wanted to understand customers’ impression and demand for a new passenger car model in the A-segment, aiming to identify competitive selling points and thus define product launching strategy as well as target buyers for the new car model.

Client: Undisclosed
Type: Market Research, Market Understanding, Product Concept Test
Time: 2020
Status: Completed

To run concept tests, it is crucial to help interviewees have the most vivid imagination and experience about the target concepts, so as to obtain the most accurate feedback about their impression, logical and emotional evaluation, the willingness to adopt and recommendation about the upcoming products. However, in many circumstances, it is challenging for automobile product tests because of either the difficulties in transporting car samples to testing venues or the requirement to maintain the business confidentiality. Therefrom, it raised a question for B&Company and the Client, which needed a proper research design so as to have the most appropriate implementation and insightful results.

Normally in Vietnam, companies often carry out concept tests though face-to-face interviews, in form of either personal conversation, Focus Group Discussion (FGD) or Central Location Test (CLT). This project was originally designed in a similar direction, dividing into 2 offline phases in Hanoi and Hochiminh City for both qualitative and quantitative surveys. But this year’s unexpected Covid-19 outbreak had all schedules messed up and postponed. Despite timely reactions from the government, Vietnam still had to undergo a social distancing period right at scheduled time for conducting all the interviews. In addition, panic was increasing among people, making them hesitate to join a public event with a crowd or to have direct contact with non-acquaintances. All these factors forced the team to come up with alternative solutions to fulfill the research request and bring in insightful results to the Client within a tight timeframe.

Having practical experiences through numerous previous projects, B&Company worked closely with the Client to develop concept package material, provide consultation regarding the structure and content of the interview, aiming to extract the most valuable and relevant information to draw up a whole picture of customer impressions, preferences, selection behavior and decision-making factors.

To overcome the effects of the pandemic, changing research scope was inevitable but B&Company thoroughly discussed with the Client to provide alternative solutions towards the project’s ultimate objectives. Accordingly, instead of carrying out offline group discussions, interviews were made via online video conferences, which required timely revision of related materials, and adjustments in procedure and fieldwork coordination. Thanks to the dedicated work from all team members, the consumer interviews were conducted successfully. Putting aside some limitation in communication technology and facilities, interviewees felt comfortable and willing to share via remote video calls. That was a huge effort to quickly react in such a complicated situation. Eventually, the project not only successfully protected community healthcare during the pandemic but also accomplished the mission for delivering satistactory results to the Client, as a good base to proceed next phases.

After the project had been implemented, remarkable insights were achieved and served the ultimate objectives of the Client.

Through the interviews’ result, the team was able to sketch the portrait of car owners and identify buying behavior of target customers in the A-segment. Although there were distinguished characteristics among different purchasers, depending on their own experience, purposes, a majority of respondents shared similar images regarding key buying factors. In particular, the most 5 selected criteria when choosing a city car included: relevant price, prestigious brand, fuel-saving, enduring engine and numerous safety equipment.

The main goal of the project to test the new car model was concentrated and clarified in detailed key findings for the Client:

  • Recognized customers’ perception on the new model, by overall and by detailed aspects, as well as the willingness to purchase. Specific feedbacks on exterior design, interior design, size, equipment… were investigated to thoroughly review consumers’ perspectives towards the new concept.
  • Determined key attention hooks, competitive selling points of the new product. An evaluation was included to recognize and compare the advantages and disadvantages between the Client and other manufacturers in the same car segment.
  • Provided recommendations of product versions, price ranges and communication edges. The team run a price model to estimate the optimal price range for each version and presented in visualized graphs. Considering all findings, B&Company advised the Client upon pricing and marketing strategies for the new model.
All the above research findings were the valuable inputs for the Client to understand potentiality of the new product and to make strategic decision on the launching plan.