Test marketing


The test marketing results suggest that to increase sales Maxy sauce needs to be redeveloped and repackaged as a more up-market product. Stephen Sablon and Anton Hiltmann have been given the task of making it work within six months. Can they do it?


Anton Hiltmann  
Jerome Fantam  
Stephen Sablon  
Patricia Hart  
Leo Schooler  
Michael Tsatsos is a marketing consultant. He is Greek.


Vocabulary Market research; retail promotion and merchandising; the marketing mix: advertising, packaging, pricing, etc.
Skills Questioning proposals in detail; negotiating a management decision; listening to figures being spoken.
Documents A questionnaire; bar charts; a line chart; a pie chart; a memo.

Planning a campaign

23.1 Listen and read

In Anton Hiltmann's office in Dusseldorf, Michael Tsatsos, a Greek marketing consultant, presents his findings to the Hiltmann management. Listen to what they say. What was the purpose of Michael's enquiries in Creek supermarkets? What sort of results would Hiltmann regard as encouraging?

MICHAEL First, the good news - we've got the results of the supermarket survey. You should have received a copy yesterday.
ANTON On the face of it, I thought these figures looked encouraging. What exactly was the procedure, Mr Tsatsos?
MICHAEL Twenty interviewers visited altogether one hundred supermarkets in five large towns on different days of the week, at different times of day. They interviewed a total of five hundred and thirty-seven women and twenty-four men.
ANTON You say this is a summary - but you've also analysed these figures in more detail, haven't you?
MICHAEL Well, yes, if you look on the second sheet you'll see we have got the computer to do a bar chart of the responses to question seven, broken down according to age. see the meaning That's the bad news!

23.2 Document study

This is the questionnaire, and the bar chart of the responses to question 7. What good news tor Hiltmann can you find in these figures? What bad news appears in the bar chart?

Summary of responses to questionnaire
1 Male or female M 24 F 537    
2 How many people live in your household? 1 2 3-5 6-8 9+  
28 76 297 122 34  
3 How often do you cook a main meal tor the household? Every day Most days Some days Once a week    
404 98 50 9    
4 How many hours do you spend on cooking each day? <1 1-2 2-3 3-4 5+  
150 238 84 51 27  
5 How much have you spent in this supermarket today? <1000 1000-2000 2000-5000 5000-10,000 10,000+  
10 25 48 286 177  
6 What is your age group? <20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 60+
64 145 161 164 48 21
7 Do you use ready-made flavourings, essences or sauces? Regularly Often Sometimes Rarely Never  
237 72 51 62 123  
8 If "Yes", what kind? Savoury Sweet Greek Foreign    
389 174 109 371    
9 If "No", why not? Don't need Don't like them Don't know Bad for you    
58 7 43 17    

Questionnaire responses


23.3 Writing practice: a customer profile

A profile is simply a short, factual description. Write a profile of the typical Creek food shopper, based on all the relevant information you can extract from the summary of responses and the bar chart.


23.4 Listen and read

The presentation continues. Listen to what they say. How is Michael going to try to reach the typical Greek food shopper as described in your profile in 23.3?

ANTON All right, Mr Tsatsos, the marketing mix. Let's hear what you propose. see the meaning
MICHAEL see the meaning The main thrust of our campaign will be through television commercials. Some of these will be at peak viewing times in the early evening see the meaning, but many will be screened during the afternoon when rates are low, but many housewives watch.
ANTON Mhm. You've costed the whole thing, I suppose? see the meaning
MICHAEL Yes, and we expect to come in at ten per cent below budget see the meaning, even allowing for contingencies. see the meaning
ANTON I've heard that one before. see the meaning What are you doing apart from TV? see the meaning
MICHAEL We obviously have to target the housewife. So, to soften up the market see the meaning, a series of half-page ads in the four most popular women's magazines, running from mid-March through to the middle of April.

23.5 Listen and read

The presentation continues. Listen to what they say. Apart from advertising, what does Michael want to spend money on?

ANTON Just that? Nothing else?
MICHAEL That's it as far as the media are concerned - except for some interviews I've got lined up see the meaning on some local radio stations' cookery programmes. They're going to mention Maxy in their 'new products' feature, you know the sort of thing. That won't cost us anything.
ANTON What about in-store promotion? see the meaning
MICHAEL Naturally, there'll be point-of-sale merchandising see the meaning: show cards, special display stands - where we can find room for them. You must remember floor space in supermarkets is at a premium. see the meaning
ANTON Can't you slip the manager something - a little backhander? see the meaning
MICHAEL Well, there are ways of offering little incentives, yes. And talking of incentives - we have allowed for a certain amount of below-the-line expenditure. see the meaning

23.6 Reading for key words

Find the words or phrases in 23.1-23.5 that tell you the following:

1 Anton Hiltmann thinks the questionnaire results look good, but he doesn't want to appear too enthusiastic in case they turn out to be not so good after all.
2 The most important part of our effort.
3 The times of day when the largest numbers of people watch TV.
4 In my experience, statements like that are usually not true.
5 That's all.
6 Give somebody a small bribe.

Presenting the results

23.7 Document study

The test-marketing exercise produced many figures. The diagrams below show some of the results. Which of the diagrams is a bar chart? Which is a bar and line chart? Which is a line chart? Which is a pie chart? Which of the diagrams show a trend over a period of time? Which show an analysis at a given point in time?


23.8 Find the word: tendencies and trends

Choose the most suitable word from the box to fill each gap.

collapse correlation fall lag peak rise rise
fluctuate higher increase number slump value

If we look at Figure 4, overall the message is pretty clear. A marked a in sales to begin with, then a b in week 9, and then a c . The sales figures seem to follow the advertising expenditure, with a small d .
Some of the regional figures e considerably, however. For example, if we look at Figure 1, sales in the small shops in the islands build up gradually. They f steadily until week 10, then they g sharply in week 11, and finally h to almost nothing. The figures for Thessaly show a more gradual i and decrease. At the end of the period they're j than they were at the beginning.
If we look at Figure 3, there seems to be a strong k between population and sales.
Figure 2 shows that although the greatest l of sales came from the 150ml containers, the greatest m of sales came from the 300ml containers.

23.9 Listen and read

Stephen telephones Jerome Fantam to tell him about the test-marketing results. Listen to what they say, and to how Jerome asks for the figure to be broken down.

JEROME Fantam.
STEPHEN Stephen Sablon here. I've got the Maxy test-marketing results from Tsatsos.
JEROME Oh, have you! So how do the results look?
STEPHEN Quite promising.
JEROME Oh, yeah? What was the retail sales total?
STEPHEN Just over ninety million drachmas.
JEROME Ninety million? How many people are there in Greece?
STEPHEN A little under ten million.
JEROME Oh, not as many as I thought. How does your sales figure break down, regionally? How many sales regions are there?
STEPHEN There are five. Central Greece, with the capital, Athens, ...
JEROME Just tell me which region got the highest sales total.
STEPHEN Central Greece, easily. It's got nearly half the population. Sales were thirty-six million.
JEROME And how about the other four regions?
STEPHEN Well, Macedonia was about twenty million, Peloponnese sixteen million, Thessaly twelve million, and the Islands nine million.
JEROME Are those the results you'd expect, taking into account the population of each region? Which regions got the best results per head?
STEPHEN The Peloponnese did very well indeed. Thessaly did well. The other three were pretty similar.
JEROME Uh-huh. That's interesting, Stephen, I look forward to seeing the detailed figures very shortly. I have to hang up now, I've got Tokyo on the other line. Bye.

Key decision making

23.10 Listen and read

Patricia, Stephen and Leo are having a telephone conversation with Jerome Fantam. Listen to what they say. Does Jerome think that the test-marketing exercise has been a success? How do you know?

PATRICIA Good morning, Mr President. Can you hear me? We have some figures for the Maxy test-marketing scheme in Greece.
JEROME I hear you, you don't need to shout. And I've seen the results. First of all I have to ask, is Sablon's resignation still on the table? see the meaning
STEPHEN My offer to resign from the board still stands, of course. However, I...
JEROME Ah... I'm not going to let you off the hook that easy. Leo, can we have your comments on the exercise? see the meaning
LEO Obviously the problem is the lack of repeat orders. We must, of course, bear in mind that this was only a three-month trial, of a product which the market perceived as being quite a high-priced luxury item.
STEPHEN Right. Where we failed was we didn't get them using it every day.

23.11 Listen and read

The telephone conversation continues. Listen to what they say. What solutions to the problem of Maxy's future are proposed?

PATRICIA So, Stephen, you think we should go down market, knock twenty or thirty per cent off the price? see the meaning
LEO Just a minute. On Anton's behalf, as he can't be with us today, may I point out that Maxy is a quality product. It's produced in small batches from high-grade materials, and the overheads are correspondingly high. They can't cut the price just like that.
JEROME They can sell at a loss for up to three years if that's what it takes to get established in the market. Also they could manufacture somewhere else than that expensive site in the middle of Dusseldorf - that would bring their overheads down.
STEPHEN I agree we may have got it wrong over pricing. But I'd suggest just the opposite from Patricia. Let's take Maxy up market, but make sure people buy every flavour in the Maxy range.
LEO Ah, product differentiation - that's what you're suggesting, is it? see the meaning
STEPHEN I said at the outset see the meaning, you remember, that we ought to diversify the product, but everyone said we didn't have time. Now we've got even less time, but we're just going to have to do it.

23.12 Listen and read

The telephone conversation continues. Listen to what they say. What solution has been chosen? What benefit is Jerome Fantam hoping to gain?

JEROME OK. I think we're beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel here. see the meaning This is what I'm prepared to recommend to the board. Stephen and Anton can have carte blanche to redesign see the meaning, redevelop and repackage the product any way they see fit. They've got six months to do it in.
STEPHEN I think Anton will accept that offer.
JEROME It's not an offer. And there are strings attached. see the meaning He's going to have to relocate. The new Hiltmann factory and offices will be sited at Essen. You've seen the site, Stephen, you agreed it was ideal, it's got laboratories, everything.
STEPHEN Well, I think...
JEROME Let me know how you get on.

23.13 Find the right word: the marketing mix

Read the text below on the marketing mix. Write a word from the box to fill each of the gaps.

cost costs differentiation down lower luxury mix
necessities packaging quality recognition repeat up

The marketing a is the combination of all the factors that affect the sale of a product. One of the most important is the product itself, its design, b and price. A lot depends on how the consumer perceives the product. c , like soap powder, are just as hard to sell as d items, like liqueur chocolates, but the problems are not the same.
Maxy, as a food flavouring, is somewhere in between these two extremes. People have to cook, and a high- e, low- f product that makes cooking easier should bring the customers back for more and bring plenty of g orders from the distributors. Patricia therefore assumes that Stephen wants go for the h end of the market, bringing the price i . But Stephen in fact wants to go j market. People who buy this type of product will go on buying it even if it k more; the problem is to make them buy another bottle before the first one is empty. This in turn means product l : Hiltmann must produce a range of sauces and flavourings under a name that already has excellent brand m .


23.14 Speaking practice: making a proposition

Listen to this conversation. Then listen again, and speak the part of the president.

MAN Good morning, Mr President. What can I do for you?
PRESIDENT Good morning. I have a proposition to put to you which I think will interest you.
MAN I see.
PRESIDENT You'll be pleased to hear that the board have given the go-ahead on your plans for product diversification.
MAN That is good news.
PRESIDENT We said at the outset, you remember, that we ought to have a range of different flavoured sauces.
MAN On the face of it, it certainly sounds like a sensible idea. But what about the time scale?
PRESIDENT Yes, you're going to have to work fast, especially as you're also going to be relocated.
MAN Oh. To that splendid new factory at Essen. Yes, I remember, we agreed it was ideal.

23.15 Document study

Jerome Fantam sends this memo to Standard Can's managers world-wide. Read it carefully. Why do you think Jerome wrote point 3?


from the desk of Jerome D. Fantam, President

to mailing list D see the meaning


  1. Members of the Board of Directors have agreed on a project to re-launch this product as a range of ready-made sauces.
  2. The launch date is proposed for March next year, subject to further tests and market studies and to revised production schedules at Hiltmann's new factory at Essen.
  3. Stephen Sablon is appointed Vice-President, Group food Products (Europe), with immediate effect. see the meaning