A concept-test for your food start-up

A concept-test will give you a good idea of the potential of your food start-up. You will learn who would want to buy your product and why. By listening to your future target audience you can innovate faster and with less risk. And to pay for the investment, subsidies are available!

Brilliant idea?

Most start-ups have a brilliant idea that will be immensely successful and change the world.  Most food start-ups have developed a product that is extremely tasty, sustainable and healthy and consumers can’t wait until it’s available in their favourite store. This is confirmed by the entrepreneurs’ friends and family who give their unconditional support. Yet many start-ups don’t become as succesful as imagined at their conception. Why? Because they solve a non-existing problem. Or solve an existing problem in a way that is no better than solutions already on the market. A tough and expensive lesson to learn, but also an avoidable lesson.

What if you can validate your idea, with real, honest consumers, when it’s still just an idea?

What if, before you painstakingly develop your first Minimum Viable Product, you know if and why consumers would be interested in it?

Higher chance of success, less risk

This would definitely help you developing the right product and tell the right message. And increase your chance of success. OR instead of learning the hard way, you would be able to tell that your idea might not be as successful as you thought it would be.

And think about investors. They will direct their money towards the start-ups that will be most likely to succeed. The first answer any investor is going to ask is: who is going to buy this? Immediately followed by: and why? What if you can provide them with a clear and well substantiated answer to these questions?

Tried & tested tool: the concept-test

A concept-test is proven way to achieve this. This is what market research agencies and large brands have been doing for years. But start-ups often seem to think it’s not achievable for them or maybe overlook the possibility.

What is boils down to it that you describe your idea (in words and maybe a few illustrations) and ask consumers for feedback on your idea in a structured way. This feedback is then used to determine the potential of your idea and to understand why your idea is liked or disliked. Additional elements of the marketing mix can be included in the study, such as packaging, price and flavours. And this understanding is then used to shape the marketing strategy before going to market. Any questions or unclarities that consumers see will be identified and also an idea if with what kinds of products your idea will compete.

There are 2 important conditions to do this properly:

  • The participants are real consumers from the intended target group
  • The researchers are independent and have no interest in positive or negative outcomes of the study

Here are some examples of crucial findings that changed the way these start-ups entered the market, after learning from their target users:

  • A concept test for a new type of grocery store revealed that the name ‘Plenty!’ was highly associated with toilet paper instead of premium plant-based products.
  • A product test for a medical device revealed that it was not the infections prevented by the device that made hospitals buy the product, but the time saved by the nursing staff when using the product.

Concept tests can be run about products, services and apps

What specific things can you learn through concept testing?

  • Strong and weaker aspects, including hidden strengths
  • Perceived uniqueness
  • Understanding of the idea
  • Willingness to pay
  • Effectiveness of your messaging

As an entrepreneur or innovation manager, you are looking for an unfulfilled need for which you are developing a superior solution. You are working on a product or service that meets or even surpasses expectations. On top of that, you will need to bring across your message in a impactful way. Your target audience can help you with these important tasks!

Through concept testing, you can:

  1. Find previously unthought of opportunities. It will give you creative input to take your idea to the next level.
  2. Convince investors, partners, retailers, etc. If you can show prove that there is a target audience who is willing to pay for your idea, it will open doors that were shut before.
  3. Decrease the risks of failure. Not only will you get an underpinned estimation of the market potential, the concept test will help to you develop the right features and the right message thereby optimising the changes of succes.

Limited investment, high returns

But this must be expensive, you may think. But we believe that failing to address the real consumer needs is expensive. Since we know start-ups have limited budgets, we have developed a budget friendly option. Our Food Forum community consists of conscious consumers, who are willing to give their unvarnished opinion. For as much as €2.000,00 we can run a professional study among the members of our community, delivering an enormous amount of insights and value.

Bonus: a concept test usually qualifies as a feasibility study, which is often eligible for subsidies or grants (such as the Dutch MIT subsidy). On the 4th of april a new round of funds will be available!

If you want to know more about concept testing capaibilites, click the download button below to see how we do it. 


We help sustainable food companies to innovate faster and communicate with more impact. We do this by offering accessible and crystal clear consumer insights

We love working with mission-driven food companies and non-profits that have a positive impact on society and our planet. Together we empower consumers to make food choices that are good for them as well as for the planet.

The Hague Tech - Wilhelmina van Pruisenweg 35 - 2595AN - The Hague
(+31) (0)70 2042314 - Info@futureoffood.institute

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