Concept/idea screening tests are research designs that reduce (i.e., screen) a large number of conceptual ideas (e.g., 15, 20, or more) into the group worth pursuing vs. those that should be rejected.

When Used

Concept screening is typically undertaken after (1) a segmentation or market study that has identified new marketing opportunities; (2) exploratory qualitative research that reveals a consumer need; (3) group ideation or brainstorming sessions; or (4) R&D/product development has identified a significant number of possible new product ideas. However, concept screening can be conducted at any time there are enough ideas to test.


Because the objective in concept screening is to identify winning ideas from a large pool of candidates, the screening process and concept format must be efficient. Unlike most concept tests, screening designs expose many ideas to each respondent. The number of ideas exposed varies based on the number to be tested. Concepts can represent completely new ideas, line extensions, or new uses/repositionings of existing products. Mechanically, concepts for screening tests are more basic than those used in traditional concept research. Specifically:

  • Concepts are brief (e.g., 3-4 sentences), and factually state the problem, usage situation, or need, and then how the product meets the need or solves the problem.
  • Versus traditional concepts, the state-of-finish for concepts used in screening is basic/low. The amount of detail varies, depending on the types of ideas or the category.
  • Concepts may or may not be branded, or include a basic visual (e.g., B&W line drawing), price, quantity/size, or packaging information. Generally, these are not included.

Screening Designs

The two common designs are “pure” vs. “diagnostic” screening. Pure screening is strictly evaluative (i.e., no diagnostics). It is typically used when there are many ideas to test and they are in basic form (i.e., a few sentences and low state-of-finish), thus permitting one respondent to see them all. For each respondent, concept exposure is randomized, with each concept rated and ranked on:

  • Purchase interest
  • Expected frequency of use
  • Uniqueness, believability
  • Optional: need fulfillment, superiority, relevance

In diagnostic screening, both evaluative and diagnostic measures are collected. Again, multiple concept exposure occurs, but in randomized groups of 3-6, depending upon the total number of concepts (i.e., incomplete block design). Concepts in diagnostic screening tests are in a higher state-of-finish than those used in pure screening. Each concept is rated (not ranked) on the same as the above, plus:

  • Voluntary positives (e.g., likes, advantages)
  • Voluntary negatives (e.g., dislikes, disadvantages)
  • Attribute ratings (limited list, usually 5-8 items)
  • Optional measures, time permitting (need fulfillment, superiority, etc.)

For more information on concept screening, download our free section, from the Pocket Guide to Basic Marketing Research Tools, here.

Surveys & Forecasts, LLC