Early Concept Testing to Reduce Time-to-Market

How Nestlé’s Global Ice Cream R&D Unit sped up qualifying early-stage concepts in a streamlined process from idea to market

The challenge

Reducing time-to-market

Nestlé’s Global Ice Cream R&D Unit in California, USA wanted to speed up the process of evaluating and qualifying early stage concepts globally in order to streamline the process from idea to market.

Their main targets were

  • to qualify more concepts faster
  • reduce time-to-market for new products.
The solution

Setting up a concept test framework to streamline processes

In order to make a standard framework that could be used continuously, a simple and efficient questionnaire was developed standardizing the different parts. This allowed the setup to be flexible with regards to the number of concepts tested from time to time.

For the specific test, 9 different concepts were tested in 8 global key markets. Nestlé developed the questionnaire in English and we handled translations and scripting for each market. 900 interviews were performed per market amongst frequent ice cream eaters - 300 for each concept cluster and a total of 7,200 respondents.

The questionnaire included a respondent filtering part and sections of concept evaluations based on only 2 standard questions per concept. Each respondent was only exposed to 3 concepts and the concepts were rotated continuously.

Concept testing

A concept test evaluates the concepts that made it through the concept qualification, and identifies their strengths and weaknesses across KPIs such as likability, purchase intent, differentiation, and brand coherence. This enables to decide whether the concept is good enough to continue into product development. If more concepts are tested against each other in the concept test, you will be able to identify the most suitable concept for the given audience.

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The research

The concepts were shortly described and pictured in mock-ups. The concept evaluations were focused on immediate purchase intent and concept associations.

The 6 languages survey and concept translations, scripting and setup of 8 questionnaires and sampling of 7,200 interviews took 10 days in total.


Through our online reporting system, Nestlé was able to follow all results live and start analysis even before the sampling was completed. To compare the concept evaluation across the 8 markets, data was exported and merged into a single very over-viewable heatmap concluding the popularity of each concept. The heatmap visualization of the results made it easy to conclude that 3 concepts performed well in all 8 markets while further 2 performed well in several markets.

The outcome

New standard procedure for early concept testing

Nestlé used the results to decide which concepts to focus on going forward in the concept development process and which concepts to discard. Furthermore, the standardized early stage concept testing has become an internal standard to evaluate all future concepts before going into later stages of concept development.

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