#StrategyTalks: The Guide to IHUT Research – Part 2

2 March 2022

Last week we talked about the basics of IHUT. By now, you should know what IHUT stands for (if not, click here to find out!). Today, we’ll go one step further and guide you through the three different types of IHUT regimens, and which one you should use when conducting product research for your products.

There are 3 types of In-Home Usage Testing:

With monadic IHUT, product testers test one product at a time. This more closely reflects real-world usage scenarios, as most consumers tend to use one product at a time. Monadic IHUT is the most ideal method of IHUT when testing a single product. A monadic testing method allows for the cleanest measurement of response or evaluation of a product, because interaction effects or biases are eliminated. Furthermore, monadic IHUT makes it possible to build normative databases. Normative data characterises the norms among a defined population at a specific point or period of time, hence its name. This database is crucial because normative data enables the greatest comparability of data with that of other products that have been tested the same way.

In a sequential-monadic IHUT regimen, each test participant evaluates two products (using one product and evaluating it, then moving on to the second product and evaluating it). Sequential-monadic IHUT is often used by brands to reduce costs. However, this method of testing works best when testing two complementary products. For example, a brand can use sequential-monadic testing to test both its peanut butter and jelly products. This way, not only will the brand be able to understand how both products are received by consumers, but also whether both products are compatible in the eyes of their target market. Furthermore, this lays the groundwork for the brand to push both products together as a set.

Sequential-monadic testing introduces the possibility of the suppression effect, in which test scores will be lower overall. As a result of this, results from monadic IHUT cannot be compared against results from sequential-monadic IHUT. Moreover, sequential-monadic IHUT gives rise to the interaction effect; any variations in the control product will cause a corresponding variance in the test product’s scores. In other words, if one of the two products is very good, then the test scores for the other product will be disproportionately lower. Additionally, miscommunication and confusion between the two products is possible, a risk which is alleviated with monadic IHUT.

With paired-comparison IHUT, test participants are asked to evaluate two products simultaneously and determine which of the two is better. This IHUT regimen is a sensitive testing technique, useful for measuring and identifying minute differences between two products.

However, paired-comparison IHUT is the most susceptible to biassed data; it is strongly influenced by the interaction effect as discussed above. As a result, paired-comparison IHUT is incompatible with normative data and thus the results of a paired-comparison test are not comparable with the results of other testing formats. What’s more, there is a significant risk of test participants confusing the two products being tested.

Planning the Right IHUT Regimen

Selecting the appropriate IHUT programme is contingent on the objectives and products being tested. For example, sequential-monadic IHUT is optimal for testing complementary products, while paired-comparison IHUT is best used for comparing your products against those of your competitors. As a general rule, all forms of IHUT should:

  • have a standardised system
  • use a database of test results to develop norms and action standards
  • be diagnostic

However, aside from the type of testing regimen, there are several other factors to consider when planning your IHUT programme.

Before even getting started with testing, it is important to first determine:

  • Sample size
  • Market segments being researched
  • Budget
  • Size of risk from over-recruitment, shipment problems, participation, etc.

All of these factors will determine the final layout of the testing programme, such as:

  • Quantity of product per respondent
  • Duration of test usage
  • Possible damage during shipping
  • Whether test products should arrive branded or unbranded
  • Age of test products

With that in mind, let’s go over the main steps of planning an IHUT programme.

The Survey: The Key to the Treasure Chest of Data

The survey is a crucial part of the IHUT programme. The survey enables brands to effectively elicit and analyse user insights. To help you plan and design a IHUT survey, here are some questions to consider:

Q: What are the key objectives of IHUT?

A: To understand:

  • The overall performance of the product
  • Whether the product is optimised
  • Where the product wins and where it is less successful
  • What modifications can be made to improve the product
  • How much change is needed

Q: What are the overall measures of an IHUT programme?

A: 

  • Overall rating of the product, e.g. on a scale from 0-10
  • Purchase intent and expected purchase frequency
  • Value ratings
  • All of these measures are used to develop norms and/or action standards

Q: What are some examples of diagnostic scale ratings?

A: A commonly used system is the 3 or 5-point JAR (“Just About Right”) ratings

A typical IHUT JAR survey question

Q: What open-ended diagnostics can be used in an IHUT programme?

A: Open-ended questions are a valuable source of insights in an IHUT programme. Examples such as “What did you like or like most about the product?”, “What did you dislike about the product?” and “What would you suggest?”

Other things to consider when planning a successful IHUT regimen include:

  • Who would use this product?
  • For what uses or occasions would they use this product?
  • What type of store would this product be sold in?
  • Where in the store would this product be located?
  • Would it replace another product currently being used? If so, which product?
  • What difficulties or problems are experienced when using this product?
  • Questions regarding package design and labelling

In Summary

As a whole, when planned and executed properly, IHUT programmes are one of the most valuable marketing research tools. IHUT can help brands realise tremendous advantages and opportunities. Regardless of what testing method is used or what objectives are in mind, for a successful IHUT regimen, brands need commitment, an organised, well-developed system, and an experienced, reliable research partner.

Tune in next week for our third and final instalment of this series, where we show you how you can leverage IHUT to optimise your products for success with PJdaren!

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About 评价达人 – PJdaren:

Since 2016, PJdaren has helped some of the world’s largest brands build trust, collect insights and drive sales in China by engaging Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) through our state-of-the-art influencer marketing platform.

Our software and services connect brands with our over 4 million-strong KOC and KOL community. We facilitate targeted, authentic conversations and content, enabling brands to capture the market with measurable results.