User Research

In-Home Usage Test (iHUT)

What is an in-home usage test?

An in-home usage test (iHUT) is a study that evaluates product performance as potential customers use it in a natural setting or targeted environment. The iHUT approach to user testing came into play as early as the 1920s. It was popularized during World War II by market research and product testing teams in the consumer packaged goods industry.

The most common ways of collecting feedback from participants during iHUTs include:

What are the benefits of in-home usage tests?

The key benefit of bringing your product into the homes of target market users is the feedback it brings in that helps you make better decisions about your brand, product, and positioning. Here are a handful of other reasons companies run iHUTs:

  • To identify flaws in the product offering
  • To learn about users' favorite features or experiences
  • To validate the product in natural environments
  • To measure customer satisfaction

How to run an in-home usage test

There are four major phases of running an in-home usage test: planning, preparation, testing, and closure. The admin/moderator and participant activities for each phase are outlined below:

Planning: During the planning phase, whoever is running the iHUT (typically a market researcher or analyst) will work to develop a project plan or strategy for the test. They will use this plan to outline what is being tested, what the recruitment requirements are, how feedback will be collected, what participants will receive as rewards, the overall schedule of the project, and any details about stakeholders.

Prepare: During the iHUT preparation phase, the project manager will start participant recruitment and build feedback forms for the project. The admin will announce the recruitment opportunity through a third-party vendor or using channels such as social media, support experiences, and CRM email. Testers are selected from the target market based on how well they meet demographic and technographic requirements. After testers are selected, the admin must bring them into the project, collect necessary shipping information, handle non-disclosure agreements, and share general information about the project. Another task that is performed during this phase is the creation of the feedback forms that will be used during the project.

Test: The majority of the data collected during an iHUT happens during the test phase. During this phase, the test admin spends their time engaging with participants who are submitting feedback and completing project activities.

Closure: During the iHUT closure phase, test rewards are distributed to compliant participants, products are retrieved if necessary, and results are analyzed and presented to stakeholders.

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