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 email@example.com.