Market testing vs product testing (definition and types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Market testing is research conducted at any stage in the development process. It's a method of determining whether there's a sizeable target demographic for a new type of product or service whilst also allowing companies to gain insight into the potential interest and profitability. Market tests allow companies to validate their assumptions about what customers want, what features are most important and how much they're prepared to pay for those features. In this article, we define what market tests are, list some examples of market tests and explain how this differs from product testing.

What is market testing?

Market testing is trying out a product or service with a small group of customers or prospective buyers to see if it meets their needs and expectations. Companies conduct market research before they launch a new product or service, though it's also used to test changes to existing products or services. This is because marketing testing provides you with information about how people perceive the product, what they like about it, what they don't like about it and how much they would pay. This information tells a business whether it's time to launch the product or service.

Related: What are marketing tests? (With methods, tips and FAQ)

What are the different types of market tests?

Some examples of market tests include:

Focus group testing

Focus group testing allows companies to gather feedback from their customers while also gaining insight into their behaviours and preferences. It involves bringing together a small group of people, usually comprising 6-8 individuals, who the company asks questions about their thoughts and motivations regarding certain products or services. This practice is useful for understanding how customers feel about new products or services developed by the company and if there are features they would like to see added. It can also help with identifying potential problems that may arise when releasing a new product or service.

Related: How to design and conduct effective focus group discussions

Questionnaire administration

Questionnaire testing is a method that relies on questionnaires to gather feedback. Experts consider this to be an efficient and cost-effective way of gathering information because it requires minimal set-up, allows for quick turnaround times and they can conduct them remotely. Moderators can administer questionnaires are online through a survey platform or via email. Though they can also be paper-based. They're typically composed of questions that ask users about their experience with the product. Survey designers know how to elicit specific information about how well they understood the product and whether there were any problems, etc.

Related: 9 questionnaire examples and when it's best to use each type

Simulations

Simulations are a type of software testing that emulates the behaviour of a real user or, sometimes, multiple users. Companies wanting to test several applications, including web applications and mobile apps, use simulation testing. Companies use this type of testing to test the performance of an application under stressed conditions. For example, if a business wants to see how well its application performs when thousands of users try to access it at once, use simulation testing to replicate this scenario. Companies examine data from this test.

Related: How do business simulations benefit companies and customers?

Survey responses

Survey testing is a type of market test wherein a company asks users to complete a survey before or after using the product. The survey asks questions about the user's experience with the product, and it's useful for allowing businesses to gather feedback from their users without actually having them try out the product. Companies use survey testing for both qualitative and quantitative data collection. This type of data is especially useful for how a company later markets a product, as user testimonials are a popular tool used in advertising. They also give companies honest product insights.

Related: Survey vs questionnaire: the differences between them

Usability tests

Usability testing is a method used by companies to evaluate a product or service with the goal of improving its ease of use. This testing involves exposing users to a product or service and asking them to complete tasks so that they can evaluate how easy it is to use. Companies give results of these tests to designers and developers who use them to improve user experience. Companies use usability testing before the launch of a product or service. In this way, it's used as an early warning system for unexpected problems with a product.

Customer interviews

Customer review testing is evaluating new products or services by observing customers' reactions. The goal of customer review testing is to evaluate how people interact with the product or service, whether they understand how it works and whether they recommend it to others. Companies do customer review testing in person or remotely. Companies that want to test an idea before launching a full-blown product use this type of testing. It's used when a company has already launched a product but wants to see if there are any design or marketing flaws for fixing before continuing with further development.

What is product testing?

Product testing is evaluating a product or service by putting it through its paces, both in terms of how well it performs and how it feels to use it. Product testers look to see if the product has any flaws, unwanted features or if there's room for improvement. This process also includes trying out new designs and features before they're released to the public. It may also involve gathering data about how users interact with a product, what attracts them to it and why they might prefer it. This information helps inform future development plans and marketing strategies.

How do market tests and product tests differ?

Market tests and product tests differ according to:

When they occur

One of the major ways in which market tests and product testing differ from one another results from when they take place. Market tests take place before production begins. It's used to see if there's a demand for a product and whether it's going to sell well enough to justify manufacturing and distributing it on a larger scale. Product testing takes place at any stage of production, but it typically happens after the completion of product development but before mass production begins, to reduce flaws.

How they're conducted

Market tests and product testing differ according to how they're conducted. Market tests usually work best with a large group of people, and don't focus on any unique aspect of the product. This type of test is only used to get an overall sense of how an audience receives a new product. Product testing focuses on one specific aspect of a product, such as whether it's effective at killing germs or preventing bacterial growth, for example. Companies conduct this type of test in an isolated environment with small groups or individuals selected from a larger sample size.

Where they take place

Market testing and product testing also differ according to where they happen. Companies that have already created a product and are now looking for ways to improve it may prefer market tests. It's conducted online, at trade shows or through focus groups. Companies still trying to create their product engage in product testing. Product testers are people hired by companies to try out their products before they're released on a large scale. Product testers provide feedback about the products so that companies can make changes before release.

Overall objectives

Market tests and product testing differ according to their purposes. Market tests usually have the goal of gauging a product's marketability and potential for commercial success. Companies perform product testing to determine whether a particular product meets certain standards or requirements. Companies use this type of testing as part of quality assurance processes or as part of research projects where researchers are trying to discover which qualities can make certain products seem better than others.

Which companies use them

Market tests and product tests are two different approaches to determining whether a product is viable. Market tests determine whether a product is going to be successful in the market. Companies use product testing to ensure that their product is safe for human use. It's important for the companies that sell products like food, medicine or cosmetics to test their products before releasing them into the marketplace, especially if those products contain chemicals or materials that are potentially harmful. There are certain industry standards that products meet before they're legally able to launch.

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