In-Home Use Tests (IHUTs)


What is an In-Home Use Test?

Whether referred to as a HUT, IHUTS, Home-Usage Test, or In-Home User Test, this is a type of market research where products are provided to consumers to use in their homes as they would ordinarily use them.

This method differs from one where participants are invited to a central facility to try, and then react to a product in an environment that may simulate a generic home, but is not exactly the same as one’s own.

About In-Home Usage Test (IHUT) Market Research

IHUT market research provides businesses with valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences. 

This type of market research examines the behavior of users in a real situation, allowing researchers to draw conclusions about the practical relevance of a product and make corrections in the event that the results are not as expected.

What is IHUT market research?

Conducting IHUT market research is an excellent way to better understand consumer behavior and preferences in daily life. It involves handing out a product to consumers for a specific amount of time and asking them to use it how they normally would. As a result, participants will try the product in their everyday life with no pressure to get familiar with the product and all its features.

This approach delivers invaluable knowledge regarding consumer attitudes and their emotional connections with products. It helps businesses improve their marketing plans for maximum success in a more suitable environment than laboratory-based research methods.

Most of these tests require a specific amount of time to allow the product to be completely consumed or at least used over a normal usage cycle.  Examples of IHUT product tests can include health and beauty aids, cleaning products, tools or appliances that are used two or more times per week, or foods that may be used in different recipes or on multiple occasions.

Importance and benefits of IHUT market research

With IHUT market research, organizations identify potential issues and optimize their marketing campaigns for maximum impact. It offers businesses the opportunity to test products in real-world settings, allowing them to receive valuable feedback and determine potential design or functionality issues.

Industries that are leveraging this research include those producing consumer packaged goods, home appliances, electronics, and home furnishings. In these industries, testing products in real-life situations is essential to develop enhancements before launching them on the market. 

For this reason, IHUT market research leads to improved products and greater customer satisfaction – and among the specific benefits that IHUT market research brings to companies are the following:

  • IHUT market research offers invaluable insight into consumer attitudes, which can be utilized for product design. Improvement, or even innovating based on the participants’ feedback.
  • It enables decision-makers to gain a greater understanding of consumer attitudes and preferences, facilitating the generation of more effective branding and advertising campaigns.
  • This type of market research allows businesses to craft a more effective market positioning strategy and, ultimately, gain greater market share.
  • IHUT market research is a valuable tool to gather consumer insights. The research findings are useful to make informed product design decisions that will result in increased customer satisfaction.
  • IHUT market research may provide critical information regarding customer trends and inclinations, enabling companies to devise strategies that grant them a competitive edge in the marketplace.

When to Use an In-Home Use Test

There are several situations when an IHUT is a preferred way to study a product or service.

  • The most common reason is to gain real-life feedback from consumers before a product is launched.
    • This can be done for a prototype, a more developed product, or a new version of an existing product.
    • Surveys or interviews about product usage before and/or after the in-home test can be done to gauge the extent to which expectations are met.
    • Insights and comments from users can provide input to the messaging and advertising for the launch.
  • If a product is used on a daily basis, it is possible to track the consumer’s level of satisfaction over time and assess why there may be a variation of this measurement.
  • It is further possible to learn about the product’s overall appeal, desire for modifications of any features, purchase intent, and pricing elasticity.
  • Aside from the cost of shipping products to a consumer’s home, an IHUT is more cost-effective than having people come to a less realistic environment such as a test lab.
Home Product Testing Market Research

How is an In-Home Usage Test conducted?

  • To conduct an IHUT one first needs to recruit qualified users of a product. This may be accomplished via an online screener or by phone. It is most helpful to have a sample or panel pre-established since initial cooperation is likely to be higher. Market research firms like SIS maintain such lists of individuals who have already answered basic demographic questions.
  • In some cases, little or no further incentive for participation is required since the consumer gets “value” from receiving the product for free.
  • Willing participants are told that they will be shipped a product to be used as they would normally use it and then asked a series of questions after that.
  • Ordinarily, a well-constructed, follow-up phone survey or online survey is sufficient to obtain necessary feedback about the product’s usage.
  • It may be desirable to have an interviewer make an appointment to visit the home and ask questions in person regarding where and how the product was used. Sometimes, unexpected use of the product may happen which can provoke new ideas for further product development or marketing messages.
Cosmetics IHUTs Market Research Product Testing

Opportunities and Challenges

IHUT market research offers highly valuable information for companies seeking to gain in-depth knowledge of consumer habits and preferences in real-world contexts. However, it also has some disadvantages that should be considered before conducting the study.


  • By utilizing IHUT, corporations are able to observe their target demographic using their products within a realistic context, providing a more precise representation of consumer behavior and inclinations.
  • IHUT facilitates companies to directly interact with their target demographic, acquire feedback and cultivate relationships with them, which can lead to higher customer loyalty.
  • It is a cost-effective way to acquire insights into consumer behavior and preferences, as it allows organizations to reach a broad and varied audience without having to invest in traveling or costly focus groups.
  • IHUT market research findings provide the right data for product development, marketing strategies, and consumer targeting. In consequence, companies can improve their return on investment and increase sales.


  • Recruiting participants for IHUT market research can be challenging. Companies need to locate individuals who are committed to the test and that meet the research requirements.
  • Collecting reliable and correct records in real settings can be difficult as there can be many elements that have an effect on purchaser conduct and choices.
  • IHUT market research may add an extra cost because it may require the use of specialized equipment.
  • IHUT market studies can take longer to complete than different styles of market research because participants need a longer time to use the product and offer feedback.

Trends in IHUT Market Research

  • With advancements in technology, there is an increased use of digital tools for tracking and analyzing consumer behavior in real-world settings. This includes wearable technology, mobile apps, and other digital tracking devices that provide real-time data about consumer behavior and preferences. 
  • There is a growing focus on sustainability in IHUT research, with an emphasis on understanding consumer attitudes and behaviors towards environmentally friendly products and packaging.
  • IHUT research is increasingly focused on understanding the customer experience to provide personalization and improve the customer experience. 
  • Companies are leveraging big data and advanced analytics to tailor their products and marketing messages to specific segments of their target audience. 
  • Video is becoming a key tool in IHUT research since it allows companies to capture consumers’ facial expressions and body language, which can provide a more complete picture of the customer experience. 
  • IHUT is being integrated with other research methods such as online surveys, focus groups, and ethnographic research, creating a more comprehensive understanding of the customer experience.

The Future of IHUT market research 

The future looks promising for IHUT market research and some of the trends that are emerging are:

  • The internet of things (IoT) could be a key piece to facilitate these studies in the near future since it would allow obtaining data in real-time. IoT could deliver information in real-time and researchers could draw conclusions rapidly. It would reduce costs and research time dramatically.
  • Artificial intelligence could allow immediate results and analysis in greater depth. The use of this technology could allow cost savings and obtain all the necessary data on the product performance in its real environment and generate improvements in a very short time which would have an impact on its market performance.
  • The proliferation of big data and sophisticated analytics is anticipated to further personalize IHUT research, enabling businesses to modify their product offerings and promotional tactics to better suit the needs of specific segments of the intended customer base.
  • It is predicted that IHUT will be employed to a greater extent, not only in the consumer goods sector, but also in areas like healthcare and advanced technology.
  • Data gathered from IHUTs can be leveraged to develop targeted marketing strategies, which are anticipated to gain further traction in the coming years.

About IHUT Market Research

After all research findings have been analyzed, one should have a sense of whether or not the product is ready to go to market. If it is not, it will quickly become evident what needs to be changed to align the product with consumer expectations and needs as well as improve its positioning in its market category.  SIS International offers Quantitative, Qualitative, and Strategy Research. We provide data, tools, strategies, reports and insights for decision-making. We conduct interviews, surveys, focus groups and many other Market Research methods and approaches. Contact us for your next Market Research project.