Cleaning Up the Innovation ProcessBy Lisa Buckler | October 3, 2022 << Back to Articles
Whether purchasing cleaning and hygiene products for use in commercial buildings or the home, buyers have a seemingly endless number of options from which to choose. From the many multi-surface cleaners and hand sanitizers to disinfectants in spray and wipe formats, today there are even more brands and products trying to capture attention than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
How can cleaning brands ensure their product becomes the product that buyers reach for time and time again? Innovation testing offers a window into consumer sentiment to help product developers and marketers put their best product with the most profit potential forward.
Understanding “wisdom of the crowd” methodology
Securing insights from the market on products before they launch or ahead of a planned rebrand can be the difference between commercial success and disappointing sales. So, how can organizations best approach ideas testing? Is a focus group comprised of customers or prospects the answer because they know the industry and the main challenges? Or is there another approach that will yield valuable insights?
In fact, crowds are better at predicting success than small, targeted groups of people because they don’t have a vested interest in the topic. For example, the popular television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire leverages the “wisdom of the crowd” idea by asking the audience for advice, which provides 90% accuracy compared to the phone-a-friend method, which offers 65% accuracy. By polling a large, diverse audience, organizations get the most realistic view of the in-market profit potential for their ideas. A sample size of 500 respondents represents the general population and is proven to provide predictive accuracy.
The “wisdom of the crowd” method works even when products are not meant to be purchased or used by everyone in the sample audience. Admittedly, people are often poor witnesses of their own behavior, but more accurate at forecasting how other people will behave. Thus, high-quality testing platforms play to these strengths by framing the question not of whether the individual would buy the product, but whether they would invest in the idea. A trading game that asks respondents whether they would buy or sell shares in the idea can determine predicted acceptance. The answers, as well as the speed with which people make their decision, are key metrics.
Ideas testing should also capture emotional response by asking individuals how the idea makes them feel. The happier an idea makes someone, the more likely it is to be a success because people will want to select it over another option. Bringing behavioral science into ideas testing provides an additional layer of accuracy so that development teams and marketers can be confident in their proposed concepts.
Putting ideas to the test
There are a number of ideas that businesses can test to support the development of a new cleaning product or understand how to update an existing product. These include, but are not limited to:
- Product concepts—Certain innovations in the industry saw a dramatic rise in adoption during the pandemic, in part due to the “hygiene theater” that emerged. Now that cleaning concerns and frequencies have more or less leveled out, product development teams might wonder what professional cleaners and consumers will gravitate toward in the future. Concept testing offers advice on the ideas that might be worth bringing to market so that product development teams can invest their budgets and time wisely.
- Product names—Certain product and brand names are so catchy that they are now used to refer to an entire category, like Kleenex®, Bubble Wrap®, and Google. Becoming the next household name requires broad awareness and memorability. Ideas testing can help weed out names that won’t make their mark and highlight those that will be more engaging in an increasingly competitive market.
- Logos—Logos can become so recognizable that they become synonymous with the company itself. Many organizations in the cleaning industry gravitate toward logos that incorporate the colors green, blue, and white, and products that offer sustainability benefits are even more likely to use green to convey this messaging. But what makes a successful logo? Gaining feedback can help designers and marketers get their branding right so that it can become a familiar and trusted emblem.
- Packaging—While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets requirements for the proper labeling of cleaning products, there is a certain degree of flexibility with packaging, including the shape of the container, the colors and fonts used, the sizing of the text, and the placement of key claims and certification logos. Pack testing provides clarity on which elements are working and where improvements can be made.
- Claims and benefits—The pandemic shifted the public’s awareness of how closely cleaning is tied to health and safety. But should that messaging still be the main focus when communicating how a product works and what differentiates it from other formulations or alternatives? Testing highlights which features and benefits will resonate the most with buyers.
Creating the next great cleaning product
While the formulations for cleaning products typically don’t change much over time, or even from one disinfectant to another, the cleaning industry still relies on innovation. New products come to market to help professional cleaners conduct their tasks more efficiently and safely. At the same time, new household cleaning and hygiene products emerge to enhance the cleanliness of consumers’ homes. This has been especially true during the pandemic.
Ideas testing can help product development and marketing teams align on the right product names, logos, packaging, claims, taglines, and more to maximize profit potential. A platform that is based on the principles of “wisdom of the crowd” and enables quick, informative results makes the process more predictive and useful.
About the Author.
Lisa Buckler is senior vice president of Growth and Partnerships for System1, the world's leading marketing decision-making platform that helps predict and improve the commercial impact of ads and innovation. Contact her at [email protected]