Blog Roderik Sorbi – Senior Client Consultant


These past few decades we have seen many publications about the pitfalls of Purchase Intent. And yet, purchase intention still feels like the most important KPI when it comes to Idea Screeners and Concept Tests. One measure, one standard. Whilst we are actually missing out on the hidden winners…

Purchase Intent has been around since the sixties, when market research first took off. In those days, innovations were bigger and bolder. Since then, prosperity has increased tremendously, and consumer needs have been largely met. While line extensions are more in line with today’s business, marketers are eagerly looking for the right path to impactful – preferably breakthrough – innovation.


  1. Purchase Intent can’t properly separate the wheat from the chaff

In our concept database, we notice line extensions performing relatively well on Purchase Intent. After all, they are small changes to the existing range: a different flavour, a different size, a different brand. This makes for innovations that differ only slightly from the existing range. Therefore, reasonably in line with expectations. Which differs from breakthrough innovations. They are perceived as newer and more distinctive. People sometimes find it more difficult to understand the product idea, let alone it being an instant trigger. Not because the written-out concept is mediocre. People just can’t always comprehend and frame the new. With these types of innovations, we see Purchase Intent scoring significantly lower.


  1. Purchase Intent ignores how the brain works

It can be assumed that this lower score occurs, because purchase intent is based on the idea that people are rational beings. The questioning is also rational; would you want to buy this product? It ignores the feelings and emotions that precede this. And it’s these feelings and emotions that happen to determine the extent to which people are not fully motivated, interested or convinced by the product idea. As would be the case with many breakthrough innovations.

With durable consumer goods, we usually notice people don’t get triggered instantly. They could have second thoughts when seeing a product idea. The real world is no different. A famous example is how people thought of the first mobile phones. People said they didn’t need them, didn’t see the point. Because after all, who wants to be reachable 24/7?

There are countless examples where people might be doubtful. The acceptance of a new coffee machine, or everyday appliances being connected to the internet. It doesn’t just happen in a day. There are people who question their own interest and need to test their doubts, because the idea isn’t understandable enough. These people will orientate more and talk to experts or people they know, before moving on to purchase.

With fast moving consumer goods, we don’t see much difference. It’s true that the buying process is faster and considerably more intuitive. But the same considerations are made subconsciously. Groundbreaking innovations such as Red Bull and Activia also needed more time to gain traction.


  1. Purchase Intent isn’t diagnostic

Innovation research is intended to learn from as a marketer. How you can optimise the potential of your idea? After all, you don’t want to lose your best ideas in innovation research. You want to learn which elements of the concept can be optimised, to increase the potential. You would think to get enough analytical power by looking at the scores of people wanting and not wanting to buy the product idea. But, it’s the opposite.

The best way to evaluate new concepts, is by looking at the Total Emotional Response Profile. By asking a couple simple, validated questions, you get insight in the different interest- and persuasion levels of respondents, and the extent to which they take action. Not only does this have a higher predictive value than purchase intent, it also offers effective insight into the 3 acceptance groups of an innovation: acceptors, potentials and rejectors.


The winners

Database benchmarks not only learn to better interpret innovation. By analysing the different acceptance scores such as relevance, differentiation and credibility with DVJ’s Concept Optimiser, the concept can be improved. Thus, making your hidden winners finally rise to the surface.