Print Concept Development At The Fuzzy-Front End

Using virtual-reality technology to better understand and predict reader decisions

Bernhard Treiber
Research Director, Treiber + Partners, Germany.
Ulf-Dieter Filipp
Head of Market Research, Burda Publishing Center GmbH, Germany.


Concept development in general shows the following structural features:

  • a more or less vast complexity of combining critical elements and components into meaningful concepts for new products and services;
  • a resulting multitude of available concept choice options;
  • high uncertainty about likely reactions among target groups on the demand side (e.g. among readers of magazines);
  • increasing time and competitive pressures.

This is even more true for print products where market saturation, product overlap, development costs, and decision-making risks tend to become discouragingly high, at least for mass-market circulation products. Print concept development should thus be particularly receptive to advances in the decision-making process through new research tools and techniques. These come from several independent directions, and converge in providing print concept development with a new paradigm for analytically sophisticated studies of reader behavior at very early stages of the development process.