Central Location Tests The Analytique way…
“Central Location test” referred to the consumer tests which is essentially work with Face-to-Face methodology in specially designed labs or locations to conduct the test with groups of people, the numbers of respondents vary according the research needs which can from 10 to 10000. The research methodology is implied to conduct research for new or modified products and also many times used for testing advertising or packaging materials. The research conducted can also be explained as in any test where direct contact with the researched articles is necessary. The methodology can be employed in both types of research process i.e. Qualitative & Quantitative and also in newly emerged technologies in market research as Eye Tracking, t-scope or facial expression techniques “nviso”.
The Central location test designing based on the numbers of variable factors we include that have direct effect on the quality which in turn reflect itself on the Data obtained. The following factors are always considered by Analytique Research while planning and designing CLT.
What methodology used for conducting tests?
What kind of study as is it has to be Blind test or double Blind test?
Which location for conducting the tests?
Selection criteria for the respondents?
Standardized recruitment process?
Motivation for the respondent to take part in the research?
The level of accuracy in data needed during the test?
Effective test schedule?
The planning for the CLTs is based on the following kind of test scenarios:
Test situation used in the Central Location Tests
If each respondent is only to assess one product, a “monadic” test format is chosen, whereas if there is a need to test several products at once, one of the other test formats is used. The selection of the type of test depends not only on the number of products to be tested but also on the specific aims of the test.
As implied in the name, each person only tries one product and then the evaluative questions are asked, for e.g. overall liking, value for money questions, etc. A monadic test such as this is usually used for new products or line extensions. A current offering should be included as a control/benchmark.
This, the simplest of the comparative tests, involves respondents being shown two products at the same time and comparing them in terms of selected criteria. This test format may also be used successfully to compare different formulas for a product under development in order to establish which of them will be best suited to the market. It is important to remember, however, that the evaluation of the products in a comparative test is a relative evaluation – respondents are assessing which of the products they are testing is better in their opinion.
This name implies two things, first, that there’s more than one product (usually two for a Home Use Test [HUT], but often three or more in a mall test); and second, that a respondent is tasting (or using) one at a time, with an evaluation after each about that specific product. A sequential monadic test includes the same measurements as the monadic test for each product. An overall preference question is usually included at the end of the survey. The key difference between a sequential monadic and a protomonadic test is that in the sequential monadic test, respondents provide a full set of ratings for each product tested; in a protomonadic test, respondents only fully rate the first product they taste or use.
The key benefit of sequential monadic over protomonadic is lower cost. A two-product sequential monadic test would require only half the sample of a protomonadic or monadic test. However, some feel that only the first product tested can be fairly evaluated and rated since the respondent already knows the questions they will be asked about the second product they test. Therefore, some will argue the respondent is sensitized to certain dimensions of the product which could change the way they evaluate it. Although rotating order can help to minimize order bias by spreading it equally among all products tested, it will not eliminate the bias.
A proto-monadic design calls for two products to be tested by each person. The products are tested one at a time, with a monadic measurement only on the product tried first. After the second product is tried, preference is measured, both on an overall basis and for specific attributes. This test design has historically been the “gold standard” for testing product changes and for competitive testing. The reason for this is that the proto-monadic design provides both a strict single product measurement (monadic) and preference ratings. Most researchers agree that when a change is made to a product, you must measure preference to obtain the likely alienation the change may cause among the current franchise. At the same time, the monadic evaluations provide guidance for further improvement to the winning product, or to better understand deficiencies in the losing product.
Repeat paired comparison
In this scenario respondents compare the same pair of products at least twice. The aim of this is to ensure that the respondents’ assessments of the products were not random or the result of a momentary impression.
In all the above scenarios, where there is a large number of product variants to be tested, a solution is devised whereby each respondent only tests a subset of all the variants. This is usually due to restrictions on budget or time, or to the limited wherewithal for testing larger numbers of samples in a single session. For instance, when assessing the taste of biscuits, after trying 4-5 products, respondents will be unable to distinguish sufficiently between the levels of sweetness of subsequent biscuits.
“Blind” and branded tests
The presence of a brand name or the knowledge of a brand name will cause the biasness in the test results; the brand is an integral part of the product. Assessment of the product is connected with awareness and perception of its brand, opinions on its typical users, and the consumer’s own experiences of the brand. For all these reasons, the decision as to whether or not to reveal the brand of the item being tested is a key one, and must be subordinated to the aims of the study.
A “blind” test should be used where opinions on the attributes of the product itself (flavor, appearance, etc.) are required – so that the brand does not affect the assessment. Such tests are used to compare rival products (they reveal most clearly the differences between the products) or at the product design stage – tests on prototypes enable manufacturers to create the formula that most suits consumers.
Where it is an assessment of the actual impact of the product on the consumer that is required, a branded test (test with brand name obvious) is used. In this situation, the test approximates a natural purchasing situation, where the consumer takes decisions resulting in the selection of a particular product.
During the central location test the test location plays very important role in the element of research (the location should be central, convenient to access, close to the recruitment point in case of street recruitment, etc.) but there are also other factors that need to be taken into consideration, such as the size of the room, fixtures, equipment available, etc. Above all it is vital that there is the facility to separate respondents, by ensuring suitable distance between each table, or using screens or booths, so that respondents cannot see the products concurrently being tested by other people or hear their opinions. Where foodstuffs are being tested, additional equipment is also required for preparation and/or storage at suitable temperatures. An effective air-conditioning system is vital where product scent or aroma is being tested.
Respondent selection criteria
The selection criteria is based on the study requirement, the most commonly used criterion taken into account in selection of respondents for consumer tests is use of a particular product or product in a given category. Various additional criteria are also used, such as gender, age, LSM, SEC, etc. The selection criteria are established above all on the basis of the research aims. When conducting research among several categories of product users it is important to remember that regular users are normally more sensitive to changes in the product and will also find it easier to recognize differences between products than occasional users.
Recruitment of respondents
The recruitment process should be robust and should be appropriate to pre-established selection criteria. If the selection criteria are easy to meet (e.g.: age, gender, use of any product in a given category) simple ad hoc recruitment (“off the street”) may bring satisfactory results from the respondents who are recruited, There are often many benefits to be had in recruiting in the vicinity of shopping centers or major shopping streets, as these are places where people of all different categories who consume all kinds of products may be found. Recruiting people off the street is a cheap method that brings in lots of respondents in a short time, but is best suited to interviews that last no longer than around 15 minutes, as this does not interfere with respondents’ plans and hence they can be persuaded to take part in the tests relatively easily.
Telephone recruitment is more effective in the case of recruitment criteria that are more difficult to meet, and in many instances proves cheaper than “on-street” recruitment. This method is used where the interviews are long, or repeated, and where respondents will be required to attend several tests.
Another method is recruitment of respondents via announcements in the press or on the internet. However, it is important to remember that certain categories of people that are not users of these media are hard to reach through these channels. The “snowball” recruitment method, which involves asking recruited to recommend their own friends, is another effective method of prospecting respondents, particularly in the case of groups that are hard to recruit. However, this method carries the risk that the respondent group will be too homogeneous (e.g. in terms of age or education) and may not reflect the actual structure of consumer groups. In practice, combining various techniques of participant recruitment often brings fairly good results.
Remuneration of respondent
The remuneration given to the respondent for the participation in the test or interviews should be previously decided and needs to be taken into consideration during the planning phase of the test. For product tests, the remuneration may be a sample of the product being tested, or another product in a similar category. Money or vouchers are another frequently used form of remuneration – and often the most effective in terms of persuading people to take part. Where respondents are recruited in advance and a particular time is arranged for the interview, the remuneration is usually much higher than that offered to respondents recruited on the street (double or even more), as much greater involvement is required of the respondent. In deciding on the level of remuneration, factors to take into consideration include the length of time the interview lasts and how many times the respondent has been asked to attend the venue. The subject of the interview is also relevant. Our experience indicates that the attractiveness of the subject to the participant can in itself be an additional stimulus to take part.
One of the ways in which the central location test differs from consumer tests conducted in respondents’ homes (“in-home test”) is the fact that the data is gathered in the same, standardized conditions. Conducting interviews with respondents in the same space and at approximately the same time ensures control over external factors with the potential to impact the test results. For instance, lighting may influence perception of packaging and its visual attractiveness, while the temperature in which food is stored can affect its taste or smell. Of course, while appropriate training of interviewers is also important for controlling the progress of all types of tests, one clear advantage of central location tests is that the project manager is able to monitor personally the data gathering process, or designate a suitable person as supervisor. Personal control of the testing process by the coordinator produces high-quality results.