In this chapter, we will address the following questions:
1. What are the dierent types of prelaunch tests that a rm can conduct?
2. How do product use and market tests reduce risk?
3. Why conduct a product use test? Why not?
4. What is the dierence between a beta test and an alpha test?
5. How does a marketing test dier from a marketing components test?
6. A controlled sale is? A pseudosale is? A full sale is? How do the goals for
Product Testing the MetaCork, a Better Wine Closure
As a wine connoisseur, retired engineering professor Bill Gardner had his share of
broken and crumbled corks while opening a bottle of wine. He thought to him-
self, “Why does opening a bottle of wine have to be so tricky?”
In 1996, Gardner
patented a technology for an alternative wine closure, which did not require a
corkscrew. He named it the MetaCork. “e MetaCork consists of an outer hard
plastic capsule with a threaded interior surface, a matching plastic threaded cap
and a natural cork or synthetic closure tted with an anchor pin. A simple, eort-
less twist, followed by a few turns, and the cork is eased out of the bottle, thanks to
the triple-helix threads, mated to ones on the bottle, that are longer and smoother
than those on a screw cap.” By spinning the capsule back into place, the bottle
STAGE 1 GATE 2 GATE 3STAGE 3GATE 4STAGE 4GATE 5STAGE 5STAGE 2
Creating and Marketing new ProduCts and serviCes
provides a neat package that doubles as a drip-resistant pourer. e plastic cap can
be screwed on to the bottle top to form a leak proof bottle reseal.
Initial responses by first-time users were positive. People really liked how
easy it was to open a bottle of wine. A concept test and a preference test
promised big success for Gardner’s MetaCork. In a press release, Gardner
Technologies enthusiastically reported that it was confident in its go-to-
market strategy. “Since we have focused from the outset on improving the
wine experience, we knew that we had to fully understand all the dynam-
ics facing a consumer at the moment of purchase and the moment of use,”
said CEO William Borghetti.
A national study conducted by a third-party
marketing research vendor showed strong support for MetaCork; 73% of the
survey group said that they would purchase MetaCork sealed wines over tra-
ditional packaging. Respondents loved the fact that wine was easier to open,
was resealable, and did not require a corkscrew. Furthermore, 83% of the
respondents described their image of wineries using MetaCork as innovative,
more progressive, and more in tune with consumers’ needs.
Gardner Technologies next conducted beta testing with its MetaCork. Products
were sent home with employees to test with friends and families. e word started
to come back that the wine closure was easy to open and easy to close, but two
dierent problems occurred. It wasn’t obvious to consumers that (1) the capsule
needed to be screwed back into place over the threaded wine necks to act as the
drip-resistant pouring feature (note the capsule in the right photo needs to be put
back on the bottle) and, (2) the drip-resistant capsule had to be removed before
resealing and only then would the screw cap create a leak proof seal. Instead, many
people snapped the cap on to the capsule, which it did easily, but this did not give
a tight seal. e testers would then lay the bottle of wine down in the refrigerator
to have it leak. Beta testing showed that the MetaCork was too complicated to use
for the average wine consumer.
Without adequate funding to redesign and retool the MetaCork, the company
decided to refocus launch eorts on business markets, such as hotels, airlines, and
restaurants, that would not typically reseal the bottles (thereby really only getting