A Guide to IHUT (In-Home Product Testing)
You can make purchasing decisions based on advertisements, recommendations or reviews, but nothing beats trying a product for yourself. It is through testing an item that you’ll learn if it actually meets your needs, if it works for you, and if it is something you would buy again. In this context, trying a product at home is very different from testing a product at a store or a stand.
In comes in-home product testing, or IHUT, a market research technique in which a company provides products for consumers to assess in their own homes. In this article, you will learn more about this technique, its benefits and how to develop an IHUT strategy for your brand.
What is in-home product testing (IHUT)?
IHUT is a way for brands to gather feedback on their product’s usability, effectiveness and overall appeal to consumers, identifying potential issues or areas for improvement.
As discussed, in-home product testing is a marketing technique. It is usually applied before a launch or product update, allowing companies to better understand how their target market will receive their item.
The process of IHUT typically involves recruiting a group of consumers who are representative of a brand’s target market. They are then given the product to use in their own homes, along with instructions on how to use it and any other relevant information.
People participating in IHUT will usually be asked to try the product regularly, for a certain period of time, and then to provide feedback on their experience.
Why use IHUT?
In-home product testing can provide companies with valuable insights into how consumers actually use and interact with their products. It can help brands identify issues that may not have been apparent in other tests or research, which then will lead to improvements or better marketing strategies.
The technique can also be beneficial for consumers.
Here are some of the advantages of using IHUT to guide your marketing efforts.
In-home product testing allows consumers to test an item in a real-world setting, which means any feedback will be more accurate and reliable.
Laboratory testing and other techniques might not indicate the same issues using the product in real life will.
When consumers are invited to participate in product testing, they feel valued. As a result, they will be more engaged with the brand, a sentiment that can foster brand loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
In-home product testing can be a cost-effective way to get feedback, eliminating the need for more expensive testing techniques or marketing strategies.
IHUT also means you will be able to get in touch with potential future customers more easily, creating a connection with people who are already more inclined to buy from you.
Since people will be testing your product at home, the insights you will get will be more accurate and reflective of real-world experiences.
Your customers will have to make their own choices about your product, which in turn will reveal to you how people might use it or store it once they buy your item. As a result, you can make improvements to meet the needs of your target audience.
IHUT can provide businesses with feedback faster than traditional marketing research methods, such as surveys or focus groups.
Often, IHUT needs a shorter preparation time, optimising tests and deliveries.
With faster and more accurate feedback, companies can make significant changes to their product, gaining a competitive advantage. Products will have a more successful launch, will be better received, and sales will increase.
How to develop an IHUT strategy
With in-home product testing, a number of products are sent to consumers so they can try them and record their feedback. Companies can ask questions through a phone questionnaire, an online survey or even during an interview.
The first step of the IHUT method consists of selecting consumers to test the products.
How to select consumers
Consumers need to meet the requirements of your marketing department to be considered for IHUT. You can find these people through an online recruitment process, encourage people to apply with an influencer marketing campaign or even select potential clients from social media followers.
The method will depend on how you structure your marketing campaign and what is the stage of your company’s product and brand development.
However, it is important that your selected consumers are representative of your target audience. After all, they will give you crucial feedback to improve your products, and this must reflect the opinion of future buyers.
What do consumers need to know about IHUT
IHUT is nothing more than an opportunity for consumers to use your product as they would normally.
Once your group of testers has been selected, they need to receive your product and a few instructions for use. Is your product designed to be used at night, during the day, or twice a day? What should people do for the best results?
You can send samples to your consumers instead of a full version of your product, cutting costs while increasing the number of testers. Not sure how to do so? Getting in touch with a professional product sampling agency can help you produce and distribute samples for this purpose, recruit consumers, and create questionnaires and unique packaging with clear instructions for better feedback.
When designing your IHUT strategy, you must also consider the ideal time frame for testers to use your product.
What should you ask consumers
Once the testers have been selected and the products sent, the next step in your IHUT strategy is gathering feedback.
You can ask consumers to answer a few questions at different times during their testing experience. They can answer a survey once the test period is over, after a few weeks of use or even a few weeks after the trial is over, relying on their memory.
You should keep your questions simple and objective to avoid confusing your consumers.
Include questions about their first impressions when receiving the product, how likely they are to recommend it to a friend or family member, if they enjoyed the experience and what they didn’t like about the product.
Before and after using the product
Participants can answer simple questions before and after using the product, so you can assess if your item is meeting expectations and if it is well accepted by consumers.
Suppose people begin “enjoying” your product when they receive it but report a bad experience once the testing period is over. In that case, you might need to make significant changes to address this decrease in interest. Other tests might give you a clue as to what could be causing these results.
General satisfaction with the product
You can ask consumers how satisfied they are with the product overall and also their level of satisfaction with specific features. Through these questions, you will get some insights into what can be improved as well as what components have a more significant impact on the overall perception of your product.
With more focused feedback, you can direct your efforts towards features that really matter to consumers instead of working to improve characteristics that will go largely unnoticed.
Benefits identified from using the product
It is important that your consumers can identify benefits they noticed from using your product, especially if that is a product claim you aim to make.
You can ask your consumers to list improvements your product has brought to their day-to-day or rate a list of benefits you believe your product might provide.
You can ask for this type of feedback at different times of your IHUT strategy, marking at what point of use consumers are more likely to see benefits or improvements.
This information is extremely useful for product marketing campaigns after the launch when people’s experience with your brand will guide future conversations with buyers. What people list or can see as being a benefit could become a slogan or a selling point.
People who are happy with a product or brand are likely to recommend it to a friend or family member. Therefore, ask your testers how likely they are to purchase your product or encourage someone they love to do the same.
Happy consumers become brand ambassadors, and fostering this type of sentiment among your first potential customers is important.
As mentioned, IHUT is an invaluable tool to understand how consumers will perceive and accept your product, which will improve your chances of success after the product launch.
Analysing results is an essential part of an IHUT strategy. It will give you a path to improve your brand, your communication strategy, and your product features according to feedback. This is the time to look at all the information provided and make smart decisions combining market research, opportunity analysis and data.
A well-developed IHUT strategy can offer relevant and clear product improvement recommendations. Through customer feedback, your will be able to tell if your product is ready for launch, how likely it is that people will purchase it and how to sell your item better.
IHUT allows you to perform a final assessment of your product in a real-world setting, being a cost-effective way to verify your chances of success.
Through a marketing campaign focused on sample distribution, you can gather the necessary feedback for your brand to improve and evolve according to market needs. An experienced product marketing agency can help you develop and deploy an IHUT strategy.