How A/B testing can help your products become festive winners

April 11, 2019| by Ben Allen


Don’t let the next sentence put you off reading any further… We’re going to mention it, that C-word. Yes, Christmas. But, behind the scenes, planning has been well underway ever since the last period ended.

The festive season is the most crucial time for the FMCG industry, with millions of pounds spent in the lead up to the big day and the accompanying days that follow pre/post. It’s also a time where hundreds of new and revised products are launched onto shelves, all hoping to be the big winners during the ‘big’ shop. The Christmas festive window is considered to be a short one, despite being planned for months on end. It is also extremely crowded, making it much tougher for brands to get their products into consumers hands. Which is why it is vital to get your product launches right sooner rather than further down the product line.

The first initial steps are around market research, which can offer a load of answers that will help define how the product is made, what the packaging will look like etc. But what next? How can you guarantee that the product you’ve created, or redesigned will sell, and sell well? Traditionally it has been expensive to test new packaging ideas in the market. From focus groups to consumer research – it can all prove to be quite a gamble on budgets, fuelling further stresses come launch day. Here’s where an effective A/B testing solution could help further your research. Implementing this form of research could help you identify between what would and what wouldn’t work in the marketplace.

It’s important to understand what sells well at Christmas time and what grabs the most attention amongst every other product. The main products consumers look to purchase at Christmas are gift sets, alcohol and festive treats (party food, desserts etc.). According to NielsenIQ’s Total Till, some of the best category growths during Christmas 2018 were Soft Drinks (+5.8%), Confectionary (+5.5%), Crisps and Snacks (+5.3%) and Beers, Wines and Spirits (+3.8%). You could argue that these products popularity is seen all through the year, depending on the season and occasion. But at Christmas, their demand is significantly higher which is why many brands will look to repurpose products to fit in with the festive marketing. Will it really matter if you simply add an icon that screams Christmas on the front of the packet? Will consumers know if you change the colours of the labelling? Or will they identify the product they’ve bought all year is the same inside, if the packaging on the outside is a different shape or size? With competition so harsh, how can you ensure you’re standing out amongst the crowded shelves?

By using an A/B Testing Solution like NielsenIQ Brandbank’s Pilot, you can ensure you’re putting your product designs in front of the people whose opinion matters the most – the consumer. It might be a simple change such as adding a Christmas design like snowflakes, trees, glitter etc. or completely revamping the size, shape and labelling. Pilot can help you retrieve the answers you need within 24 hours, recording accurate, live data. Packaging is the most important selling point at this time of year because not only does it need to stand out, but it also needs to be recognisable. Whether it’s used in a media campaign, recommended at a festive party or is stocked next to the many other brands offering the same thing, the packaging needs to sell your product. It’s the first thing consumers will see before anything else. So why spend thousands on market research when you can implement a fast, easy and affordable solution into the mix?

Pilot is powered by A/B Testing Solutions provider, Vypr, who recently trialled three variants of a juice bottle; changing the shape, colour of the bottle cap and introducing a sticker tab. Testing the purchase intent with consumers, they split tested the product to show different options to different consumers, changing just one variable each time. From all of the trials, the results found that only one variable made a significant difference to purchase intent – the shape of the bottle. Simply asking thousands of consumers via the app “would you buy this product?”, giving them three designs to choose from. Out of the three designs, the team were then able to distinguish between what would work well on shelves over what wouldn’t. They then tested the winning bottle with the different coloured caps and sticker tab variations, though found they wouldn’t materially impact the performance of the product. All of these questions were able to be answered within a single 24-hour period, helping to identify how a product would perform out in the market (if it were to be produced).

With NielsenIQ Brandbank’s Pilot service, you can test your product’s packaging and receive fast, powerful, accurate data within a short time frame. Much like the trial conducted by Vypr, you can secure the data you need to help make those all important decisions for your products. New product development doesn’t need to be expensive and something as easy as Pilot can help shape your products positioning come peak buying season.

To find out more about NielsenIQ Brandbank Pilot, contact an Account Manager on +44 (0) 330 555 33 44 or email