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Extension of the Laboratory into the Home

May 25, 2006 - by Robert E. Stevens, GENESIS II(The Second Beginning) E-Mail:

Over the past couple of months I have been trying to show how we can expand consumer research beyond the typical testing protocols through the use of what many call unique product tests. It is my opinion that a consumer research department properly organized can be an immense asset to the company by being a valuable service to R&D, Sales, Advertising, Manufacturing, Traffic, as well as Marketing. The following study is another example of the consumer research department going a little beyond the typical preference type studies.


The objective of this study was to determine the effect of various laundry detergent formulations on the washer parts, such as the tub and pump. Households were recruited and consent was obtained for us to replace various parts of their wash machines with new parts, and to use an experimental laundry detergent for all of their laundry for a period of one and a half years. During this time we would supply all their detergent and supply any washer maintenance necessary.  At the end of the study if the homemaker wanted us to re-install the original equipment in the washer we would.


The homemaker would use the test product exclusively for the test period and allow us to come in every three months and break down the washer to photograph and inspect the parts. At each visit, there would also be a short product interview.


The study included 180 households. With a maximum of seven installations/ inspections per day and the re-supplying of detergent along with maintenance, the work required a full time field technician for one and a half years.


It is all about exploring and evaluating potential opportunities for your company as well as guarding against potential market problems. This line of thinking took our group of researchers originally set up to explore product use and opportunities in the home to many other locations. Those locations included areas such as hospitals, especially the operating rooms, nursing homes, commercial laundries, beauty shops, dry cleaners, restaurants, car washes, and discount stores to mention a few.


We, as researchers, are called on to explore ways of utilizing our company's talents to expand the business. Why then should we not use the same talents to explore the various ways to increase our value to the company?

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