How to integrate fake door testing in your consumer insights

Fake door tests are becoming increasingly popular within the consumer insights and market research industry, yet there is still confusion on when and how to use them.

They are a new testing concept to add to or replace current consumer insights approaches. 

In this blog, we are going to explore the current process, its downfalls and where fake door testing helps pick up the slack in the areas where consumer insights are lacking.

Current consumer insights process

The current process for consumer insights teams has been crafted over a long period of time; it’s been tested and refined to make it as smooth as possible. Until now, at least, that process has done these teams well but hasn’t taken into account everything you can do with current technology and how to capitalise on that.

This well-thought-out process looks like this:

current consumer insights process

You start off by gathering your initial insights. These help you to create an initial hypothesis for the tests that you will run later and are typically based on data that has already been collected by your team from previous products or through industry reports and research.

Then you can run your testing through whatever variety of tests you decide, whether that’s surveys, focus groups and 1-to-1 interviews. Once you’ve collected all of this data you then present your insights and the product can go into development and release based on the findings.

That’s quite a simplification of the process, but it is the general outline of how consumer insights are gathered currently. 

The problem with this process

Unfortunately, while this process essentially works, it doesn’t mean it is perfect. In fact, it is getting further away from perfect as technology progresses.

The reason for this is that the methods explained above result in biased, opinion-based data - which isn’t the most reliable way to base any decisions upon. In the past, though, it has been the best option because technology wouldn’t allow us to get better results. 

Even now, when we think we are using technology to its utmost, it is still a survey. We get more results than we could before and faster than before; it’s not a different way of working; it’s just a more streamlined one.

This means that bias is still there, and that bias is inherent to surveys and interviews, you can’t ween that out. This is because when you ask someone a question about a potential product, it is open to interpretation from that respondent.

Imagine I said to you:

‘There is a new research method that allows you to get reliable insights from thousands of people, bias-free, for fast and cheap - would you use this method?’

You would probably say ‘absolutely’. I know I would.

Yet when it comes down to it, this method exists, and many consumer insights teams aren’t taking advantage of it; it’s called fake door testing, Pretotyping, or landing page testing; it goes by many names.

This is the bias that comes with survey testing. Someone might imagine your product in a way that they think, yeh I would buy that, but when it comes down to actually purchasing it and putting their money on the line, they don’t. Fake door testing gets around this by making it seem like this product exists and getting each respondent or user to put information down, or skin in the game, to ‘purchase’ it, resulting in unbiased and reliable data.

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Where fake door testing comes into consumer insights

Let’s talk about where fake door testing comes into the process then. 

new consumer insights process

The best place for fake door testing to come into your consumer insights process is after you have completed the development of your initial insights; here’s why:

1. Fake door testing needs direction

The main struggle people find with running fake door testing is the direction they should take. There are numerous ways to set up tests and multiple variations to each test that, actually designing a well-run test can be a minefield.

Running after you have completed your initial market research is perfect for overcoming this hurdle. You get a sense of what the consumer is looking for from your product that helps you generate a direction and hypothesis to test with fake door testing.

2. It validates your opinion based research

Because you have all of that fantastic insight already and have built a hypothesis on what you believe to be true based on that research, fake door testing can come in and give a final, behavioural-based validation to those results.

One company we worked with had a specific price hypothesis that 12.99 would be the best pricing point for their new product. After running fake door tests, they found the tangible demand for that price point was much lower than for 14.99. This resulted in them being able to increase the operating margin of their product by more than 50%, something they wouldn’t have been able to do without fake door testing.

3. Gets tangible results

With fake door testing, you get real behavioural data as opposed to opinion-based data like surveys. 

This is because when you run a fake door test, the consumer believes that the product they are handing over details for is real and exists. At that point in time they are actively showing a purchase intent, not a perceived intent like in surveys.

4. Fast and cost-effective

Fake door tests make it easy to get results from a large audience while still being simple and easy to set up. At its core, you need three things, an idea of what you are testing, a landing page flow and some adverts.

It doesn’t take much time or money to set up but gets incredible data.

Can you replace surveys with fake door testing?

Some might say that fake door testing can replace your current concept testing, and while that does hold some truth, you could replace surveys and interviews entirely with fake door testing. We prefer to say it complements those methods.

The benefits you get from fake door testing are at their best when you have a real focus on what you are trying to test and what data you are trying to extract from the audience. Because of that, running them by themselves can give rise to less focused tests and less focused results.

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Written by
Steven Titchener
An experienced growth marketer now helping Horizon and it's customers create successful products. Always looking to expand his ideas and take on unique and interesting takes on the world of marketing and product development processes.
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