Testing…. 1, 2, 3…
I am right now testing out a few new products, and will have a few more to test in the coming year (hopefully). It’s been a while since I’ve tested new products, so as I was getting things all ready to go out to the testers, I did a quick internet search to see how the kids are running their testing programs these days.I was surprised (and somewhat appalled) to find that most of the links that Google brought up were to discussions of fellow WAHMs talking about how they don’t bother with testing. “Oh, I sent a diaper to my sister to use and she liked it, and I like it, so it must be OK.” “I already know my diapers are great, so why would I go to the trouble or expense of testing?” “Testing? What?” Oy.
So, why do we test new products and what makes a good testing program?
Part I of this series will focus on why we test new products.
New product testing is important for a number of reasons.
1. Maybe you’re the only one who likes your item. Ever thought about that? I have several things I’ve made for our family that work for us and that we like, but other people look at and are mostly puzzled. Sending out your item to a variety of people can at least serve as a screening process before you invest more time and money in your product.
2. Your products get stronger with more feedback. Sure, YOU like your diaper (or whatever). You’ve (hopefully) worked diligently on a pattern that suits you perfectly and used materials you like and you’ve (again, hopefully) enjoyed a few months of successful use. But you are one person, and you are using your diaper on, usually, just one or two kids. Even if you hand diapers out to a few friends, that’s still a REALLY small group – and one that is likely to be of a similar mindset. You want a wide variety of people trying out your items.
3. Verification of size ranges. Let’s face it – most of us WAHMs are just guessing about size ranges on our diapers. (gasp) Testing helps firm up those guesses.
4. Learn of potential major issues before they become a really big deal. The absorbent pad in your all in ones turns into a damp ball in the dryer. Your diaper works great on your skinny kids, but cuts off circulation to the legs in chubbier kids. The straps on your MT start to wear after only 2 times thru the washer. The stitching is uneven, and though you didn’t think it would be a big deal… everyone else notices it. You only get one time to make a good impression with most customers – testing will help make sure you don’t blow it.
Pitfalls you can avoid through adequate testing:
– Finding out through customer feedback that your PUL delaminates after about 5 washes. Yikes. I know a WAHM who had this happen, and she ended up having to contact everyone who’d purchased from her and refund their money. That is NOT a situation you want to have happen, and it could have been prevented with good testing.
– Deciding, based on customer feedback, that you need to make adjustments to your pattern just a few months after you start selling your item. Yes, all WAHMs seem to be in a near-constant state of product improvement, and that is a GOOD thing. But realizing that you need to change your pattern so soon is a problem. Ideally, you want to be changing your patterns because you thought of something even better… not because you’re getting negative feedback about fit.
– Learning that your diaper just doesn’t measure up to the other products already available.
– so, so many more
The next post in this series will talk about how to design an effective testing program.