Virtual future real life or fantasy: Innovations in virtual testing technologies and applications
In recent years the drive for innovation has led many companies to seek a broader understanding of how consumers view different products, categories and brands as they progress through the shopping process. In addition to primary research designed to better understand market structure and category landscape, companies have increasingly turned to virtual testing solutions to assist in identifying how consumers shop specific categories so they can optimize marketing, product and package variables to better position products in the decision hierarchy. When done correctly, virtual testing can provide critical insights for marketers and category managers on the 'path of the consumer', and provide a framework for engaging consumers with products, planograms and communications strategies that best meet their needs. It also can help to engage retailers to make proactive decisions on merchandizing and assortment strategies that can lead to improved sales in critical product categories.