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Comparative Testing and Market Positioning

ImageComparative testing provides with very useful and complete lessons. A great number of examples prove their significance in the news. Footwear is not outdone. Throughout the year, CTC, the leading global resource providing quality assurance for the footwear and leather goods industries, carries out tests for French and European consumer associations, specialized magazines or people responsible for bringing products to market. .

In addition to positioning a product on the market in relation to the competitors’ products or helping the customer make a choice, these tests also provide an objective, trustworthy advice which helps the products to improve and reduces the level of risk when they are launched

ImageKnowing the product better

Products test beds in magazines are very successful columns. They are useful purchase aid and provide quantitative data to help the consumers make the right choice. Upstream, these tests are also powerful benchmarking tools for professionals. Both of these have conflicting aims.

Consumer associations want to be able to provide an exhaustive overview of what is currently available on the market. The tests should enable the end consumer to make their choice. For their part, the managers responsible for placing the product on the market (manufacturers, distributors, etc.) will resort to these tests and comparative tests for several reasons:

  1. Positioning the product in comparison with the competition;
  2. Supporting a marketing argument;
  3. Developing or improving a product according to the results obtained during the test and how well they score;
  4. Product diversification into new segments. 

Comparative testing: accurate answers to specific questions

Any product can be subjected to a comparative study. But a same product will be analyzed according to the final consumer’s needs, in which case the tests carried out by CTC provide elements for comparison. But the results will be open to interpretation that will be made. A same shoe won’t meet the needs of different consumers. Two factors have to be distinguished:

  1. The usage (sports or smart footwear, suitcase or rucksack, etc.);
  2. The context (children, adult’s event, leisure, etc.).

The product position chosen will place it using criteria remembered by consumer and suggested by the laboratory. This characterization of the use is a fundamental point in any comparative analysis. The consumer show the elements they want to judge: product’s resistance of life span, biomechanical and hygienic comfort, etc. Based on these expectations, the laboratory will identify the tests which will meet consumer’s expectations.

Identifying the consumer’s need

Numerous testing methods exist, standardized or developed internally by CTC, whatever the product: volleyballs, rucksaks, smart shoes, etc. and according to the expected criteria, the requirements will be variable. Three approaches can be combined with each other:

Laboratory testing regarding the resistance of the material, the components or the finished product but also the measurement of its comfort and technically advanced;

Biomechanical testing that allows revealing the sensations perceived during the use of the product objective. They are carried out by experts. This group of experts, together with a product specialist, a biomechanic and a well-informed user provide a further analysis.

Testing the product in situation or by wearing it which means using of the product in real conditions by taking into consideration its specificities. For example, for a smart shoe, the evaluation will concern the well-fitting and the comfort parameters and a testing will be realized by using the shoe. An ergonomics evaluation can also be carried out.

This testing panel allows a real evaluation strategy to be created, by calling on the laboratory’s human skills. Then, a test hierarchy will be proposed. Each function is associated with a test which involves on of these three approaches.

Product positioning

To establish a basis for comparison, we need to refer to an objective data source that contains a significant number of inputs to weight the results. Each result obtained is positioned in comparison with the values obtained by other products tested and present on the market. This weighting is made possible by a knowledge base developed by CTC for almost 15 years and which grows by more than 10,000 references every year.

The results will be interpreted using the based scores obtained by other products for the same type of purpose.

A result is of no value unless it can be used. Criteria are interdependent: a product needs to correspond to a global answer. This uniformity leads to greater market satisfaction. This is why the search for differentiating elements on the product can join a strategy of high-range or technical product development.

Comparative study – Non exhaustive list of products analyzed by CTC

  1. Shoe: training, trekking, tennis, ski, football, kids, smart, comfort, senior, orthotics
  2. Rucksacks: trekking/mountain, school bags
  3. Luggage
  4. Sports equipment: balls (soccer, rugby, basket, volley, etc.), shin protection, goalkeeper gloves
  5. Roller
  6. Cleaning products: leather waterproof, leather cleaning products
  7. Textile: tents, garment.

More informations about CTC


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