Controlled test marketing

This is a test where sales are measured within a controlled store environment. The length and frequency of the checks are set to parallel the real-life elements of expected product movement, the repurchase cycle of the category and purchase seasonality. The research firm conducting the controlled market test obtains distribution of the product in a representative sample of stores within each market selected for the test. It handles 'sell in' and guarantees that this will be 100%. It stocks the product in the stores, handling both warehousing and distribution. The research firm maintains retail inventory levels, handles pricing, shelf conditions and the building and placement of displays.

The approach has several advantages over traditional test marketing. Costs are far lower and the forced test needs only about six months - the whole process is accelerated. The method also makes it more difficult for competitors to recognise what is going on, so there is less chance that a competitor can exert a distortion effect.

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