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In-home Usage testing with Highlight™

In-home Usage Testing: Debunking 10 IHUT Myths

In-home usage tests (IHUTs for short) are nothing new in the realm of product research, but now, they're coming into a new era with advanced algorithms, quick turnarounds, and endless testing possibilities.

Historically, in-home usage testing has been tricky. Cultivating a diverse, representative, and engaged community of product testers is labor-intensive. Logistics for physical product distribution has been an expensive headache. And the technology to collect and process consumer data simply didn’t exist. 

That’s all changed now. Highlight is an integrated platform that makes it easy for CPG and retail brands to put their products in front of real, at-home consumers and get the insights they need for quick innovation.


Highlights integrated IHUT solution


With all that has changed in the world of physical product testing, there’s a lot to catch up on. To better understand how IHUT works with today’s integrated technology solutions, we’re debunking 10 myths below:

10 Things to know about In-home usage testing IHUT

In this blog:

  1. IHUT isn’t customizable
  2. Product testing only tells you what you want to hear
  3. Product testing is old school
  4. Products aren’t tested as they should be used
  5. You can’t blind test against competitors
  6. You can only test a limited number of products with IHUT
  7. IHUTs are only valuable for quantitative data
  8. IHUTs are slow
  9. IHUTs don’t reflect the opinions of niche consumer groups
  10. IHUTs are only valuable once you’ve developed your product



Myth 1: IHUT isn’t customizable

The Highlight platform puts users in the driver’s seat. Our CPG testing solutions span pre-launch use cases from ideation, prototyping and validation to post-launch renovation use cases like line expansion, competitive testing, alienation testing and more. 

Most Highlight customers design their research to capture data for several use cases. (For example, when ready-to-drink cocktail brand Country Luau set out to concept test new packaging and flavors, their marketing team made additions to the study for gathering data on purchase drivers by consumer demographic, too.)

If that sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Highlight’s customer success team has in-house expertise to guide you in crafting a study or series of studies that meets all the goals of your product research roadmap.

Option 4

Meet Highlight's Sensory Scientist, Lauren Rappaport



Myth 2:  Product testing only tells you what you want to hear

Product testing can create an echo chamber effect, and that is a problem. But that’s exactly why testing your product with a well-built community of high-quality testers in their natural environment is so important.

Many brands rely on internal teams, family and friends, and brand loyalists to provide feedback. That can give you some initial data, but it’s important to deliberately seek out unbiased third-party feedback from consumers who are completely unfamiliar with your brand to get the honest data you need.


“I realize the importance that honest feedback gives to both companies and their consumers. By being a Highlighter, I feel like I can help both sides to make the perfect product.” - Alyssa


Learn more about Highlight's community of product testers



Myth 3: Product testing is old school

There are elements of product testing that are old school. These days, gathering consumers in a central location and observing how they interact with your product through a two-way mirror is mostly just a Mad Men plotline. 

basket of kisses

Today, software–not office rooms–enables creative exercises and projective techniques

to inspire effective product messaging. 


But the need for insights on how your consumers interact with your product remains constant. The problem is that too many companies haven’t updated their approach to physical product testing since the 1950’s. 


Technology has come a long way to make market research faster, easier, and more effective–brands just need to learn how to leverage it.




Myth 4: Products aren’t tested as they should be used

IHUT is the best alternative to CLT (central location testing). Rather than consumers sitting in a sterile, uncomfortable room, products are now in your consumer’s home and they are being used, eaten, etc in the environment they naturally would. This leads to more accurate, truthful feedback.

This is another reason why Highlight provides an integrated logistics solution. To get reliable consumer data, brands need their products tested as they will be used–that might mean refrigerated, frozen, or otherwise packaged in a way that maintains fidelity. When Highlight customers ship us their product in bulk, we can take care of the rest to ensure everything is delivered as it should be.



Myth 5: You can’t blind test against competitors

Highlight’s logistics solution also makes it possible to do a blind side-by-side test of your products, your product with another product, or simply your product by itself. Highlight’s customer success team is here to consult on what would be the best option for you and your brand.



Myth 6: You can only test a limited number of products with IHUT

Most CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) products that you can think of, we can help you test at Highlight. Does it have to fit in our boxes? Nope! We can work with you to customize a plan of action and get the product you need to test into your ideal consumer’s hands.

Here are a few categories we've worked with:

  • Food & beverage
  • Beauty & skincare
  • Office supplies
  • Pet care
  • Frozen/refrigerated
  • Beer, wine, & liquor
  • Household cleaning supplies
  • Consumer electronics
  • Apparel & footwear
  • Household appliances
    and more!



Myth 7: IHUTs are only valuable for quantitative data

You and your brand control the format of the feedback that is received. Highlight can collect traditional quantitative feedback, or ask open-ended questions and collect photo and video responses for qualitative feedback. Many brands employ a combination of both, or even arrange for in-depth interviews (IDI) with their Highlight product testers. We are proud of the detailed, heart-felt responses that our Highlighter community continues to provide in all of these mediums.

See how apparel brands use qualitative testing for innovation

IHUT is actually one of the best forums for gathering organic, honest qualitative feedback in consumers' home environments




Myth 8: IHUTs are slow

Results don’t have to take forever. Highlight provides a quick turn-around so you get your data and reports within weeks, not months. On average, Highlight customers receive their data within three weeks of project sign off.

Another advantage the Highlight platform gives customers is to quickly pivot. As soon as your products are received by testers and they start testing, you’ll be able to see their feedback as they upload it to the platform, in real time. This empowers brands to quickly pivot if they see trends emerging off the bat.

See how better-for-you brand Verb Energy uses Highlight’s data dashboards to move at game-changing speeds



Myth 9: IHUTs don’t reflect the opinions of niche consumer groups

Our testers are real, awesome individuals who care about seeing brands succeed.! You decide who to send your product to in the realm of demographics, geographics, and psychographics. Do you want consumers who care about sustainability? Are you looking to test with a certain age range? A certain region? We'll help you figure this all out.

Demographic + Psychographic filters

Did you know? Highlight customers can engage super niche audiences (as low as 3% IR audiences!)



Myth 10. IHUTs are only valuable once you’ve developed your product

Do NOT wait until you have a physical prototype in hand to test your product. The best brands test early and often–all the way through from concept tests and messaging generation to sensory testing and prototype testing. Highlight makes product testing quick and easy enough to facilitate constant consumer insight gathering. When IHUT is this easy, your product innovation can be data-driven through every phase.


See how Nestlé Accelerator uses Highlight to power agile product testing


Whatever your size or scale, we can promise that you will get to know your consumer base on a deeper level. What do they like? What improvements do they say are needed in your products? This is a win-win because continued communication + innovation done well = better products.


Interested in learning more? Contact us!

Still have questions about product testing? No problem! We have an in-depth blog post covering it!

Wondering what makes Highlight’s IHUT solution different? Read our FAQs.