Using Product Testing for Due Diligence

Article Author: Tabetha Hawkins

Imagine you launched a successful consumer brand — a healthy, snack-size ice cream sandwich that has no fat, only three all-natural ingredients, actually boosts energy and tastes like the most indulgent dessert ever created. Even better, your brand has achieved success with key target consumers, and you’ve grown revenues to over $4 million.

But to broaden distribution to a larger market and capture enough “share” — both the mind and market kind — you’re going to need capital. After working for many years in the private equity business with both legacy and emerging brands, I know that it takes serious money to grow your manufacturing footprint, find distribution partners, support a multi-channel advertising campaign and develop data analytics that show market-changing metrics.

Whether you are a start-up or a legacy brand looking for investment capital to help you expand, or you’re ready to sell and move on to your next challenge, private equity or venture firms will put you through a due diligence process that can be onerous. It runs the gamut from financial review and risk tolerance to market size and trends, competition, sales and customer satisfaction. Today, smart brand owners are coming to the table with some of those key insights already in hand.

The value of consumer testing

A little background: we’ve seen a craft brands boom over the past decade, and many have found sticking power because they are purchased by market leaders who would rather buy a winning product than create one from scratch. Private equity and venture capital firms are also competitors for these market disrupters. But the competition for their money is fierce. And failures like the very publicized Theranos disaster have made the investor community cautious, no matter the category. What do you need to get past the gatekeepers and survive the rigor of due diligence? I submit, consumer testing.

Here’s what the Harvard Business Review has to say about what imprimatur testing can provide when you are competing for investment dollars:

 “Advantages of consumer testing: The risk of failure of the product is minimized. Marketers get good exposure to the marketing environment in order to measure the performance of sales…testing reveals different aspects like price, packaging and advertising claims.”

Recently, my company launched a consumer-testing platform called eFive™, a sensory and product insights platform designed to give both legacy and emerging brands quick, accurate and affordable consumer insights from industry-leading sensory experts. The insights provide a wealth of information on topics such as: product readiness for expansion, consumer purchase decision process, market and demographic opportunity, flavor and texture profiles, and – this is key – how the brand performs against the competition.

When you are ready to sell your brand, doesn’t it make sense to have already checked some of the major boxes associated with due diligence? eFive™ not only provides consumer insights on how a product appeals to the senses: taste, touch, sound, flavor and texture; it also answers critical questions on packaging. Does the brand packaging convey a believable value proposition? Is it engaging? Does it communicate the key product differentiator?

Emerging CPGs that are serious about selling a successful brand or taking it to the next level partner with e-Five to prove out product claims, measure overall ‘liking’ among a target demographic and test their product against a market leader. Services include onsite consumer testing at facilities in Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Francisco markets, as well as focus groups and even at-home research to gain insights on real-life consumer experience with products.

The platform enables brands already in the market to make vital adjustments to improve market performance. And for those brands seeking investment capital, these data points can speed the process significantly.

About Sean Bisceglia

Mr. Bisceglia served as an Operating Partner at Sterling Partners for 2 years before joining Curion Insights as CEO and overseeing the launch of eFive™. Bisceglia’s business success began 25 years ago when he founded TFA, a technology-focused ad agency that achieved significant success. TFA was sold to Leo Burnett in 1998. Bisceglia then partnered with William Blair to acquire CPRI, where he doubled revenues in less than 2 years. In 2007, he founded TalentDrive, one of the first technology-enabled staffing businesses.

To discover how eFive™ consumer testing can work for you, visit

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