In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, where consumers are bombarded with a sea of product options, the key to standing apart lies in building unwavering trust and credibility. Brands need to come to the table with product differentiations and solutions that can address important consumer needs. But it’s not just about bombarding consumers with claims; it’s about identifying claims that resonate and substantiating those claims with solid product testing—a strategic approach that grabs your consumer’s attention and influences their purchase decisions.
As brands face intense scrutiny, it’s now more crucial than ever to back any product claims with rock-solid validation. When consumers understand the thoughtful and robust product testing used to validate these claims, a deeper level of trust and authenticity is forged.
Clarity Behind Product Testing For Claims
Product claims serve as powerful statements that communicate a product’s unique features, benefits, and attributes. Whether it’s the functional advantages, sensory or emotional delights, or environmental credentials, each claim is a promise to consumers about what the product can deliver and how it can fulfill their desires.
To create compelling claims that genuinely resonate, certain criteria must be met:
- Claims should be built on concrete consumer insights, setting the product apart from the competition.
- Highlight the product’s exclusive benefits, giving it a competitive edge in the market.
- Address vital consumer needs, providing compelling reasons to believe in the product’s value.
- Speak the language of consumers’ lifestyles, making the claims relatable and inspiring action.
- Ensure that the product can indeed deliver on and fulfill the promise of these claims.
- Leveraging Product Testing Results For Big Wins
Through careful product testing that is appropriate to the claim being made, claims can best align with consumer expectations and preferences, ultimately enhancing their effectiveness in driving consumer engagement and purchasing decisions.
Wendy’s serves as a notable example of the success that stems from validated claims. We conducted a study that helped Wendy’s showcase the superiority of its crispy fries compared to its rival, McDonald’s. By leveraging consumer insights, Wendy’s substantiated its claim of having the best fries in the market. These validated claims effectively set Wendy’s apart, captivating consumers’ attention and setting the stage for market success.
Throughout the process of building strong consumer trust, transparent communication of product testing results is an essential step. When brands openly share the details and outcomes of their product testing, consumers gain confidence in the claims being made. This transparency sets the tone for long-lasting relationships, fostering loyalty and advocacy.
Integrating Product Testing and Claim Substantiations into Your Strategies
To stay ahead in the game, product testing and claim validation must be seamlessly integrated into the product development process. Consideration of consumer relevant claims at early stages of product development allows identification of claims that are motivating to consumers as well as enabling R&D to develop products that can deliver against them – and have a strong chance of being supported.
Insights companies can leverage qualitative capabilities to uncover core consumer needs and frustrations at the heart of appealing and differentiating claims. Also, quantitative capabilities are leveraged to substantiate the claim and prove indisputable support. State-of-the-art facilities can also be utilized for testing and research when brands seek to dig deep to find the right claim for their products. Regulatory expertise and claims testing experience guided by strict ASTM standards is the cream of the crop for product testing for claims. This allows insights companies to carry the weight of regulatory rules so brands can focus elsewhere.
Our systematic approach to product claims support outlines four stages:
1. Generation: Identifying Motivating Claims—Qualitative testing is conducted, based on prior consumer insights, important and unmet consumer needs.
2. Prioritization: Claims Sort—Quantitative testing to prioritize the claims that are most compelling to consumers for the client.
3. Evaluation Pilot: De-risk and establish viability—Quantitative testing that de-risks the process and minimizes cost by identifying a product’s potential for delivering on the claims and identify the best claim to move forward with.
4. Substantiation: ASTM Compliance—Quantitative testing with Curion’s methods is consistent with the current ASTM Standard Guide for Sensory Claims Substantiation E1958.
By partnering with trusted product testing and consumer insights firms, brands elevate their product claims appeal and de-risk the process, earning credibility, objectivity, and most importantly, consumer trust.
Looking Into the Future of Claims Testing
The future of claims continues to be shaped by cutting-edge innovations in methodologies and technologies, driving more efficient and effective testing solutions. Powerful online databases and search engines, AI-powered data analysis advancements, AR/VR testing environments, and advanced sensory evaluation techniques (e.g. electronic nose and tongue technology or texture analysis equipment), are revolutionizing the way products are tested and claims are substantiated.
Consumers are growing more mindful of the environmental consequences of their buying decisions, and many are also seeking out products that align with their personal values. Forbes reported that consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, and support companies with a strong purpose. As sustainability gains momentum, rigorous testing and validation of healthy and eco-friendly claims have become indispensable. According to Food Dive, 53 percent of U.S. consumers would be prompted to buy a product sporting a label claim of “natural.”
Lush Cosmetics, for example, has become popular among consumers for their eco-friendly and ethically sourced beauty and personal care products. Walking into any Lush location, the brand incorporates sensory experiences throughout the store, highlighting the natural and luxurious aspects of their formulations. And their claims follow suit: made with fresh ingredients, handcrafted for a sensory delight, product with rich lathers, enticing scents derived from essential oils, gentle textures that leave the skin feeling refreshed and nourished – just to name a few.
Anticipated shifts in consumer attitudes and regulatory requirements for claims are shaping the future landscape. The top five anticipated shifts that were identified in consumer attitudes were:
1. Brand transparency and authenticity: Consumers expect clear and honest claims that accurately represent a product’s attributes.
2. Ethical sourcing and supply chain practices: Consumers want to support brands that demonstrate responsible sourcing and ethical practices.
3. Locally sourced products: Locally sourced and sustainable products are growing in awareness as consumers prioritize supporting their local communities.
4. Conscious consumerism: Consumers are supporting and purchasing from brands that have a positive impact on society and contribute to social causes aligned with their beliefs.
5. Circular economy and waste reduction: Consumers are seeking products and brands that prioritize recycling, upcycling, and waste reduction.
Regulatory Compliance: The Gatekeeper
Crafting claims without solid substantiation in line with top-tier scientific standards and ASTM guidelines could potentially place brands in a dicey situation, not just financially but also when it comes to their reputation. Therefore, it’s essential for companies to team up with partners who are well-versed in best practices. This proactive approach can help companies sidestep potential pitfalls, especially when facing challenges to claims, particularly high-risk competitive claims.
The following example highlights the need for robust evidence when making your claims and challenging a rival’s position:
Pepsi and Coca-Cola, global beverage giants, clashed in the “Pepsi Challenge.” Pepsi claimed blind taste tests favored its taste over Coca-Cola’s. Coca-Cola countered, questioning the methodology and emphasizing brand loyalty. This rivalry sparked discussions about claims and loyalty in the CPG sector.
Sealing the Deal: Trust, Test, and Triumph in Claims Testing
It’s clear that understanding consumers important needs and frustrations, carefully and appropriately designed product testing, and transparency of information all play pivotal roles in developing claims that resonate with consumers, motivating them to action and establishing their trust in the brand. Through rigorous research, brands can substantiate their claims, ensuring trust and credibility with consumers, while also differentiating products in competitive markets.
Investing in robust testing processes helps brands to position themselves as true industry leaders, not to mention minimizing risk to their finances and reputations. Claims testing empowers brands to confidently communicate product benefits, forge a distinctive identity, and win the hearts of consumers seeking unparalleled experiences. With solid claims development and validation, brands thrive as trustworthy trailblazers in the dynamic market landscape.
Rachel Buss is the senior client services director at Curion. Rachel brings extensive sensory and consumer end-to-end qualitative and quantitative testing experience and building meticulous studies that form dynamic product narratives. Rachel is an experienced end-to-end qualitative and quantitative consumer researcher with experience executing all phases of sensory-centric consumer testing for CPG companies of all sizes. Rachel is a RIVA trained moderator and is highly skilled in building and maintaining dedicated, qualitative consumer groups for her clients. Rachel holds a Master of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois with a heavy emphasis in her studies on sensory science and a Bachelor of Science from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Chemistry.