Qualitative concept testing can be more of an art than a science. While a scientific approach can be incorporated into the idea evaluation process (avoiding order bias, adding objective grading scales, etc.), the rest needs to be all about the art of reading the room and overcoming obstacles that consumers will put up around getting solid feedback on ideas.
As a frequent moderator of concept evaluation groups, I know that it is critical to set the stage so that consumers are not put in the seat of ‘editor’ or ‘copy writer’. I tell them not to think about individual words but rather the intent of all the words together. I also give them different tools to make sure they stay as big picture as possible such as ‘Write a sentence to describe this idea to your best friend.”. Typically I find that creative consumers can go on the journey. However it’s those darn literal consumers who get fixated on specific words and cannot see past them to appreciate the core idea. I try to help respondents see the forest through the tree by having them cross out those trouble making words, add in their own words, and move on. It is important to not let a few words take down a good idea or derail the group.
Another big issue that happens is that a good idea is buried inside of all the wrong language. The language takes them to the wrong place, they get the wrong impression, and the idea begins to die a not so slow death. In this instance it is critical to have consumers turn over the concept sheet and forget the language on the page. Then I try to give them one sentence that summarizes the idea by saying… “Lets forget those words instead what do you think about a product that does X?” It is amazing how many times the core idea is highly appealing when stripped down to a sentence or two. It lets consumers get back on track. Once they do you can build the idea out from the core, as such saving it from an unnecessary death.
So, next time words are the enemy of a potentially good idea get them out of the room so the idea can live on!