Controlled Store Testing

Controlled store test-marketing, if affordable, can provide test results that reliably simulate real-market conditions and buyers. These methods can reduce risk and test-market costs as well as save time.

Many small businesses cannot afford to hire outside consultants and researchers to provide an extensive product development program. However, even a one-person firm can conduct its own "in-house" controlled testing, or testing of new products with selected stores.

Many entrepreneurs have successfully designed and conducted their own controlled test-marketing by finding a receptive store owner and placing their products in a single store. You can then refine your products before you expand sales beyond this home-grown test vehicle. Both products and services can be tested in this simple, low-cost format.


For example, a single-person car-detailing company conducted a test of the business with a local car repair shop. This entrepreneur spent weekends at the repair shop offering customers on-the-premise cleaning and home pickup of their cars for cleaning, washing, waxing, and other car-detailing services. He refined his "bundle" of services and prices prior to conducting his business full-time and eventually offered his services as a sub-contractor to many other auto repair shops in the city.

For business owners contemplating opening a single new store, providing demonstrations of the new product prototype to potential target consumers/buyers can provide a wealth of qualitative data at low financial risk. This informal research can point companies in the right direction for refinement of product features/benefits prior to committing scarce dollars for expensive molds, production equipment, or plant and office.