The Role Of In-Home Use Studies In Marketing Communications

In-home trials have long played a part in the product development process, but only recently have they been conducted with the main goal of informing the development of marketing messages. What a manufacturer has in mind is often different than what occurs in actuality. That’s why it’s important to ask these basic questions:

Who is using the product?

The female shopper who is traditionally responsible for making household purchase decisions is typically targeted for in-home use studies, but she is often not the person actually using the products. For that reason, it’s important to verify that you are engaging the right individual. For instance, do you want to reach the mother who purchases acne medication for her teenager or the teenager who is suffering from the breakout? While efficacy will be key for both, other messages will vary significantly for these audiences.

What are they using the product for?

Consumers are far more inventive about product usage than monographs allow. While learning about off-label usage will not enable you to make claims that regulations prevent, it can help identify new areas for product development or prompt the need for clinical trials that would allow you to pursue a specific claim.

When is the product being used?

In-home trials usually come with a prescribed or suggested usage protocol. Whether it’s because a person has his or her own routine, thinks he or she knows better, or identifies a different time to use the product, consumers seldom follow usage instructions to the letter. Don’t let this nullify your trial. Instead, you should learn from it. For example, arthritis sufferers told us that they limited their use of topical pain relief products containing menthol to evening hours because they were too embarrassed to go to work smelling like “medicine.” This led to a creative execution that promoted the product for nighttime use.

How is the product being used?

Consumers are inventive about their product usage and application. In food and beverage studies, people often share information about preparation, food pairings, and even where they sit down to eat. This information can drive photo selection and more. Product application may also come into play. In some cases, people have logical reasons for the ways that they apply products, but often it’s as unscientific as an old wives’ tale. The application of vapor rub to a child’s feet is a perfect example of this. While this application can’t be found on the label, it has been positioned as a “tip.”

In-home use studies can vary in their size and complexity. Because their use is qualitative and not quantitative, even small samples can yield big results. For more information about in-home research to drive messaging and claims, contact Beth VanVliet, director of client services, at 585.641.4531 or

Five Facts About The Media Consumption Of Teens

American teenagers are very in tune with technology today because they grew up during a time when technology was constantly evolving. This teenage demographic knew to “Google” any question they had and saw the birth of Facebook – in fact they actually had to wait until they turned 13 to officially join. So it makes sense that this demographic would be on the cutting edge of media. Here are five important facts about the media consumption of today’s American teens.

  1. Smartphone and tablet devices are growing faster than other devices. Households with teens are seeing smartphone and tablet ownership grow faster than other devices such as laptops, DVD players, and gaming consoles. From Q4 2011 to Q4 2012, smartphone penetration increased for teens and adults 18-24 by 45% and 32%, respectively.
  1. Teens are watching more video on mobile devices than 18-34 year olds; however, TV is still the winning platform for video consumption.


  1. Teens listen to music most often for approximately 5.8 hours each week according to a 2012 Nielsen Music 360 report. Teens also have the most music apps–approximately seven–on their smartphones.

There are many new ways to listen to music today; the top sources for teen music consumption are:

  • YouTube (64%)
  • Radio (56%)
  • iTunes (53%)
  • CD (50%)
  1. Teen concern for privacy has decreased in the last six years (from 2006 to 2012). In addition to the information in the chart below 92% of teens post their real names, 82% post their birthdays, 62% post their relationship status and 24% post videos of themselves. Gender also plays a role in what types of information are held more private. For example, boys are 85% more likely to share their personal phone numbers than girls (26% vs. 14%).


  1. Facebook is not dead. Teens are more likely to jump onto the newest platform, but they are not leaving Facebook. In a focus group hosted by Pew Internet for its Teen, Social Media, and Privacy Report, teens voiced diminishing enthusiasm for Facebook. There is a dislike for the platform now with their parents on Facebook and friend “drama.” However, there is a large amount of social interaction still taking place here and it is important for teens to not be left out of the discussion.

If you are interested in learning more about the social media habits of teens, please read the Pew Internet research study at

Three Trends That Are Making The Financial Services Industry Better For Everyone

No matter your industry, you would likely agree that customer experience can make or break your ability to win, grow, and retain business. The same is true in the increasingly competitive financial services industry. What may be quite different, though, are customer expectations from one industry to the next. While most shoppers enjoy planning for their next pursuit or purchase, they tend to approach financial services institutions with apprehension. However, we are seeing three trends that may soon change that for the better.


Mandatory disclosures, regulations preventing the use of misleading or deceptive advertising, and the Credit CARD Act aside, it’s clear to financial services companies that transparency can create longer-lasting business relationships with customers. A transactional relationship can provide a revenue stream, but within the financial services world, customers now have many more choices, so retaining and building relationships with them is increasingly important.

Bottom line is that trust is what transforms customers into advocates. Financial institutions are working hard to better understand needs and expectations by customer segments, to create easier to understand financial products and better, more intuitive interfaces.

The reward or their efforts: In an era where social and digital media enable consumers to immediately share their experiences, customers who trust their financial services providers will drive the most referrals and be more willing to consolidate their needs with a single financial services provider.


In the very early days, software products like Quicken were criticized for being too advanced for the average consumer and had too limited a market to be a worthwhile business. That turned out to be wrong. Today, the same arguments could be made about new automated financial tools like FutureAdvisor, Betterment and others. But they would also be wrong. Nowhere is it more important than in the financial services industry to empower consumers. People generally don’t like dealing with finances and software that automates common money management activities is welcomed.

While still, today, nothing beats the ability to offer consumers their interface of choice – be it online, over the phone (with a live human), or face-to-face – ease of accessibility is key. We will see the trend toward improved automation and convenience continue.


Not so long ago, if you were wealthy, white and male, with a lovely wife and your 2.3 children, the financial services industry was pretty much devoted to you. Don’t get us wrong, they still like you very much, but they are embracing new audiences to serve. This takes a serious amount of refocusing and, frankly, reinvention. But the rewards are significant for everyone.

In a recent middle-market focus group we conducted to gauge receptiveness to new products, the group expressed doubt that they would ever fully understand what was needed to make wise financial product choices. One participant summed it up, “Rich people are born knowing this stuff, for regular folks it’s very intimidating.”

Broader outreach, simpler products and increased accessibility will go a long way. Ongoing dialog to gain a better understanding of these “underserved” consumers’ needs and requirements is underway. Speed is key. Today, more than 75% of adults nearing retirement have saved less than $25,000 for retirement. And 76% of Americans say that they are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Clearly, there is more to be done to improve their financial well-being, and from our perspective here at Martino Flynn, the financial services industry is invested in accomplishing just that.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s financial services capabilities, contact Robbie Magee at

Arming Your Sales Force With The Right Technology

They have only minutes with a customer or prospect in a face-to-face meeting. So how does your sales force make the most of that time?

The answer could be an iPad app, developed to be a dynamic sales tool that’s part informative, part persuasive, and all interactive.

That was the case with a custom app we created for Given Imaging, a medical device company, to present how its PillCam technology excelled as a tool for monitoring Crohn’s disease.

Targeted for physicians, the app was packed with clinical data, patient case studies, and plenty of “seeing is believing” images—all presented in an engaging way.

What can the sales force do with this app?

  • Navigate through content with just a touch, and customize their presentation as they go, for truly customer-driven engagement.
  • View videos full screen, then seamlessly jump right back into the product story.
  • Link to substantiating clinical studies, literature reviews, and other deeper-dive info.
  • At the end of the meeting, email pdfs of key information to the customer with just a few quick taps.

It’s not only a great tool for the sales force, but also for the physicians. Because this app provides a compelling way to view compelling information that could improve their patients’ lives.

To see this app in action, watch the short video in this case study.

More Than Meets The Eye: Tips For Creating The Right Point-Of-Purchase Display

By now, many marketers are familiar with the statistic that more than 70% of U.S. shoppers make purchase decisions in-store. More specifically, research shows that 39% of U.S. shoppers choose their brand in-store, and 29% of U.S. shoppers make unplanned, impulse purchases. However, 13% of U.S. shoppers report that they often leave a store without a purchase from a planned category. [i]

What does this mean for brands in-store and at-shelf? Capturing consumers’ attention, and ensuring that they can find what they are looking for, is key to capturing their dollars. Effectively using a point-of-purchase (POP) display can help achieve this goal.

Here are four factors to consider when selecting a POP display.

Secondary Placements: Achieving a secondary placement for items inside a store often guarantees a sales lift–and a well-executed POP display can help convince a retailer to give your brand an additional placement outside of its category. When developing your POP display, consider what additional store areas your product would sell well in, and what type of displays are suited for that area. Softlips, a Martino Flynn client, recently achieved placements outside of the traditional cough/cold aisle and inside the cosmetics section by offering retailers an engaging shelf display.

Length x width x height: An often-overlooked factor in POP displays is size. For on-shelf displays, you need to consider the height of the display, so that it easily fits onto your retailers’ shelves. And while that seems straightforward, you also need to consider the width of an on-shelf display. Will it fit inside the real estate given to your existing product facings, or will you need more space? Are you willing to give up a product facing so a bulkier/larger POP display can be put on-shelf?

For freestanding floor displays, consider what open space exists in the current retail environment. Will stores have available floor space for a display, or will this deter them from using it? If you have to use a smaller display, will it still give the impact you need, or will it be lost in the crowded aisle environment?

Small scale, but big impact: In terms of engaging POP materials, bigger isn’t always better. There are many small scale options that can have a big impact on sales. Martino Flynn has worked with a variety of clients to develop eye-catching product hang tags, offering coupons, or rebates. These are larger than traditional Instant Redeemable Coupons (IRCs), so they catch consumers’ attention, but are small enough that they can be applied directly to the product. If a hang tag does not work with a product’s packaging, we frequently recommend using at-shelf coupon pads. With POP options like these, you don’t need to give up any product facings, and they can often be applied at factory– making them easy to execute in-store. Generally, they have a lower cost of production than dimensional displays, and a shorter production period as well, making them affordable–and fast–POP option.

Breaking through the clutter: From retailer-placed signage to competing brand displays, consumers are often overwhelmed inside stores with the number of choices and marketing messages. Make sure that your POP items–displays, shelf cards, and coupons–are designed to break through the clutter that makes up today’s retail environment. Martino Flynn recently worked with leading animal health care brand Absorbine on a breakthrough shelf card for one of its horse grooming products. Unlike standard shelf cards that are flat, Martino Flynn developed a card that included a shelf-sized horse tail, which was made from real horse hair. This “out of the box” shelf card was overwhelmingly well-received at retail stores, capturing the attention of consumers in-store, and helping to drive sales for Absorbine.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s shopper marketing capabilities, contact Rose Feor at

[i] OgilvyAction. “Shopper Behavior Instore.”

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