Virtual Conjoint™ Enables Game-Changing Product Innovation

Settling for Fresh vs. New

The consequences of product failure are so high, that truly “new” innovations have been replaced by strategies that settle for keeping the brand “fresh.” Product changes in many CPG categories often consist of little more than minor incremental product innovations – updated package graphics or minor branding adjustments. Because the changes are minor, if the change does gain traction with shoppers, competitors quickly release their own versions – and store brands trail not far behind. The result: Product me-too-ism.

76765409Parity Does Not Build Loyalty

For one category, the “me-too” aisle is a very fragrant place. It is a loud and vast runway with a multitude of boxed and bottled brands. It’s jam-packed with DayGlow color and shooting-starbursts (Bigger! Better! Best!), each package clamoring for a moment of “Your attention, please!” While no grocery aisle works harder to attract attention, 4 out of 5 who shop this aisle think the store brand is as good or better. Welcome to the laundry detergent aisle.

While there have certainly been innovation victories in the detergent aisle over this category’s long history (liquid detergent comes to mind), bold change is the exception. Because of cost or testing scale issues associated with research methodology, consumer product R&D investments are often limited to incremental product improvements – all too often, made just to catch up with competitors.

Virtual Conjoint from Decision Insight Enables Innovation

DI continually works to create innovative new research methodologies to help clients better compete. With Virtual Conjoint™, DI has combined virtual shopping with choice analysis to create a very powerful research tool to enable major product innovation instead of minor iteration. This proprietary approach applies the principles of shopper marketing to test product development, packaging, pricing, and product placement solutions. The process offers numerous benefits:

  • Reveals the underlying structure of decision making. Decision Insight can then build mathematical models of what shoppers are likely to do – and why. With Virtual Conjoint, clients not only gain testing outcomes, they also learn the shopper decision-making that brought it about.
  • More efficient than concept testing. Concept tests are static and require large sub-samples to evaluate ideas one at a time, independently of all others. The Conjoint study can simulate thousands of concept evaluations, each within the context of all others.
  • Can be used to predict choices and marketplace activity. Virtual Conjoint allows reliable and cost-effective testing of new products, ideas, and concepts.


Test More Combinations, Achieve More Innovation
The advantages of Virtual Conjoint are most evident in concept and package testing. Traditionally a manufacturer vets a myriad of possible innovation ideas during internal brainstorming sessions. Because traditional research methodologies limit the number of concepts that may be tested, ideas are discarded and narrowed, sometimes with the help of an ad agency, leaving two or three final options for testing. The result is that most concepts are discarded well before they are thoroughly explored with shoppers. Virtual Conjoint allows clients to test hundreds – or even thousands – of concepts and combinations.

In addition to the product innovation validation gained with Virtual Conjoint, the Decision Insight team works with clients to activate the solutions by delivering a specific set of “guiding principles” for each variable tested. For example, the optimal “Acme Soap Position” with the “Pure White Brand” is “100% clean, 50% of the water, 100% of the time.”

Virtual Conjoint works because it determines how important each feature is to shoppers and the preferred combination – enabling major product innovation instead of minor iteration.

Contact Leslie Downie at (816) 437-9852 to learn how we can put DI’s Virtual Conjoint™ to work for you.

AlexAlex Sodek is Chief Research Officer at Decision Insight.

He can be reached at or (816) 437-9834.