Test marketing is a marketing method that aims to explore consumer response to a product or marketing campaign by making it available on a limited basis before a wider release. Consumers exposed to the product or campaign may or may not be aware that they are part of a test group.
In software development, a common example of test marketing is a beta test. Beta testing, also known as user acceptance testing (UAT) or end user testing, involves providing an early release product to a limited sample of the intended audience. Beta testers are invited to provide feedback on the product that will help improve it for the full market launch. If testers are enthusiastic about the product, they also generate buzz for it and increase the likelihood of its success.
Test marketing of retail products involves placement in a limited number of stores. Sales in those stores are used to predict market response to the product and guide distribution for the full launch. Test marketing often launches regionally and a product is made available only within a limited geographic area. However, it’s important to ensure that the test market is a reliable predictor of the full market since a product that is popular in a given area may not be successful elsewhere.
Test marketing is used for online marketing campaigns, where programmatic advertising makes it relatively easy to target a particular audience and to gather data about the response to a campaign. For example, marketers use A/B testing to send one advertisement to some users and a different one to others.