I’ve seen several commercials lately that involve letting real people test a product, without telling them the brand of the product, and seeing their reactions. While there is usually some inherent bias and skepticism, I generally think these tests work well. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed the Dove body wash test and the Suave Professional Hair Care tests.
For Suave, they put the new product in a generic bottle, and let stylists test them on models. The products elicit comments about improved hair texture, silk/shine, flexible hold, and generally “awesome product” reviews. Then, they reveal that the stylists have been using Suave Professionals, and all the stylists are blown away. The comment that stuck with me was, “I will definitely re-think my impression of Suave”. This is HUGE for a marketer, as perception plays a huge role in the selection process. Suave has a reputation for being lower quality and low-priced, not “salon-approved”. By doing these real tests, Suave has effectively found a way to change people’s perception. They’ve changed the name of the product by including “professional” in the title, the packaging is a sleek chrome color, and they’re proudly telling everyone to just give the new formula a try. I applaud Suave’s efforts to change the perception by tweaking key ingredients like packaging, name, and imagery used in commercials.
The Dove body wash commercials show a “before” and “after” shot of close-up photographs of the models’ skin. They give the models a week to use the body wash, and re-take the photos to show that their skin is smoother than before. Again, I like that Dove is changing perceptions about body wash by getting people to use the product, instead of just making the claims in the advertising. They haven’t changed their packaging or naming, but they’ve continued their success with images of “real” women using their products. They done tests with mirrors to show that their soap doesn’t leave a film, tests with sleeved vs. sleeveless shirts to prove that their deodorant leaves your skin smooth, and used curvier models to show that their product is for women of all sizes. Dove has been the champion of “real” for a long time, and I love that they’re continuing down this line of advertising and enforcing the perception that they are a brand for “real” women.
I think these tests have a lot more merit than taste tests, and I like that they can be used to change perceptions, as shown in Suave’s example, or to enhance perceptions, as in Dove’s case. People aren’t fooled by companies’ claims in advertisements, and I think we’ll be seeing more product tests in the future.