NPD Success Culminates with Home Use Test

Jun 4, 2024Insights

For nearly two years, Catapult has partnered with Delta Faucet Company to better understand hair care needs, specifically for those with curly, textured hair in support of building a go-to-market strategy for an innovative new tool. After multiple initiatives to get it right, ranging from an Attitude & Usage study, qualitative research, message development and concept evaluations, and pricing studies, we partnered on what might be the final piece of pre-launch research: a Home Use Test (HUT). 

The tool, known as VersaCurlTM, is already turning heads and winning accolades after it was announced at KBIS. That industry show was happening right around the time we were wrapping up our 10-week HUT, which chronicled real-world experiences and perceptions of the tool.

This seemed like a good time to talk about a few tips to run a successful HUT, based on this and many other experiences we’ve had over the past decade.

Home Use Test

Nail the Timing

There’s a lot that can be said under this marquee, so I’ll just hit one of the most important. Avoid incurring costs until prototypes are in-hand. Anything and everything is possible when fabricating something for the first time, and the last thing you want is to rack up recruiting costs and then have to delay or re-recruit because prototypes weren’t ready. Do what Delta did and allow time to receive and QC everything before marching forward.

Know the Reason

There are limitations to what HUTs can help us as researchers learn. They aren’t recommended for understanding price perceptions or examining the purchase consideration process because respondents are trying the product without having to buy or consider it in the first place. But HUTs are great for confirming which benefits a product can deliver or uncovering design issues that result from how a product is used (and abused). We know humans are curious creatures that represent an x-factor, and this means intended uses can be overlooked or alternative purposes developed as people live with a product.

Nail the Timing (Again!)

In the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, it’s often vital to allow respondents plenty of time to use a product – especially for truly novel innovations. HUTs should be used to simulate trial and adoption periods, which means the duration of the HUT should be sufficient to allow repeated use. This gives us a close look at how and if a product fits within existing behaviors, or perhaps becomes central to all-new routines. Learning curves and experimentation pathways are important for marketers and product teams to observe because it might necessitate messaging or product design adjustments.

HUTs are a specific research tool for a specific job, and they are quite powerful when conducted thoughtfully. Volumes could be written about what to do and not do in a HUT, but I’ll save that for another day. If you have questions about if a HUT is right for you, or how to make it as successful as possible, we’re easy to find and always happy to share our experience.

Justin Sutton


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