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Top 10 "Aha!" Moments Uncovered When Smart Labels Tracked Product Usage

Updated: May 24, 2023

The world’s top consumer brands are going beyond traditional, self-reported research to tap into never-before-seen consumer insights using the smart consumption platform.

Smart, connected research is reshaping the way brands access consumer insights.

The traditional approaches to market research – which most brands have long relied on – are expensive, difficult to deploy and rife with error. Consumer research studies such as in-home usage tests (IHUT), A&U, ethnographies, and habits & practices depend on consumers to self-report their actual usage. As humans, we all know that the way that we see ourselves isn’t 100% accurate. The same applies to an in-home usage test when consumers are self-reporting how they use a bottle of floor cleaner or a container of seasoning!

As brand leaders, we’ve long needed a fresh approach to conducting market research and it has finally arrived. Smart Consumption Labels monitor product usage in real-time through connected labels that monitor usage data (date and time of use, volume and more) and trigger messages to consumers smartphones, in order to gain additional feedback.

These insights are driving a new era in market research, innovation, and marketing bringing speed, agility and scale to the existing methodologies. Let’s dive into some of the most surprising consumer insights that our customers have obtained by using Adrich’s smart consumption research platform as part of their market research initiatives.

#1: Consumers are lying.

It’s not uncommon that self-reported behavior data is quite different from actual usage data. IHUTs using smart consumption labels often show different usage times, patterns and behaviors from what was self-reported. In one consumer study focused on a detergent bottle, a consumer’s journal entry showed regular uses throughout the IHUT study. On the contrary, the smart consumption label attached to the product was able to track and identify the fact that there was only one usage time-stamp on the day before the IHUT ended, showing an excessive pouring behavior, or dumping of the product, that occurred over several minutes. Using smart consumption labels allowed the consumer insights team to distinguish between participants taking part in the study as directed, and those that are not.

#2: Scents matter!

Usage behavior, including usage amounts and the rate of consumption varied based on the scent of the product in cleaning products. Also different scents were used for different cleaning purposes. For example, one of the scents of a product was used primarily on light usage occasions while another scent was used for heavier cleaning, where consumers poured the cleaning agent into a bucket for floor cleaning with a mop. In this case, consumer feedback on usage occasion was gained through timely messages triggered by the detection of changes in usage behavior, monitored by the smart consumption label.

#3: Most people are not following directions when it comes to using your products.

We’ve found that the majority of the consumers are not following the directions listed on the product, sub-optimizing product efficacy. In the examples of an iconic cleaning product that’s been around for 30+ years, we discovered that consumers were not following the instructions on how much to dilute the product. However, the true behavior data captured through our platform provided insights on the type of cleaning jobs where consumers were over-diluting the product.

With this new information, the brand team was able to change the product instructions in order to prevent consumers from over-diluting and therefore under-using the product, so that they could obtain the maximum benefit from using the product.

#4: Laundry fresheners aren't just for laundry!

In a usage study on laundry fresheners, we found that consumers are using the product for a new occasion. Contrary to the brand team’s expectations, out-of-home usage behaviors for laundry scent boosters were detected using our platform’s geolocation capability. Upon detecting this behavior, consumers were contacted to understand the why and how this out-of-home usage was taking place. It turns out that laundry fresheners can be used as an air freshener in vehicles as well!

#5: Each demographic segment has its own set of usage behaviors.

Demographic groups showed varied product usage times and rates of consumption. For example, millennials ate and ran out of peanut butter later at night than other groups. Gen X, on the other hand, displayed more daytime usage. Millennials finished the jar in 4 days on average, while older groups took much longer with an average of 10 days to consume the entire jar. This data enables the brand team to validate the prime consumer targets, based on consumption.

#6: Packaging can make or break consumption.

When it comes to packaging, sub-optimal design can hold back the product consumption. In working with a seasoning giant, our platform compared usage from the seasoning mix’s shaker bottle, which had two different dispensing sides: a “spoon side” and a “hole side.” Our smart labels detected that the holes were too small for intended consumption. Upon learning this, the brand team jumped into action, redesigning the shaker bottle to make it easier for consumers to use more of the product.

#7: Marketing messaging impacts usage.

In an A/B test, we determined that different marketing messaging deployed through advertising resulted in different product usage amounts. For example, we demonstrated that showcasing a variety of recipes can provide inspiration for how to use a new product and significantly increase subsequent usage amounts. The brand team was able to identify the right messaging to drive long-lasting consumption and behavior change among their target consumers.

#8: Again, consumers are not following instructions!

When it comes to food product storage and serving, instructions during an in-home use test (IHUT) for a new product showed that consumers were using the product at room temperature, despite instructions to use the product after refrigeration.

#9: You and your consumers may have a different vision for your product.

A “healthy, on-the-go” snack was discovered to be used more in-home during a new product test market. Our smart consumption label detected more in-home usages vs on-the-go and out-of-home usage occasions, contrary to the brand’s expectations prior to the test. The Innovation team was also able to learn that the product was consumed in much smaller amounts per use than anticipated. Most interestingly, despite the “healthy” positioning of the product, the food was often paired with alcoholic beverages. Automated messages using our two-way communication capability was triggered at the opening of the package, enabling in-the-moment feedback from the consumers.

#10: Actual behavior data can fill the gaps in traditional, self-reported methods.

A consumer electronics maker identified significant gaps between consumer self-reported, claimed data and actual behavior data in terms of product usage time. When consumers were asked how long they cleaned their floor using a vacuum cleaner, they often overestimated the time that was spent cleaning versus the actual behavior data that was captured through our smart consumption labels. Many people who actually cleaned for no more than two minutes stated in their journals that they had cleaned anywhere from five minutes to 15 minutes! We get it, cleaning feels like it takes forever!

What more could you learn about how consumers are using your products?

Brands are using smart consumption labels to learn unprecedented and often unexpected lessons about how, how much, when and where their products are used. These insights drive change to optimize product adoption, from redesigned packaging, shifts in messaging to new strategies for consumer engagement.

What insights would smart consumption labels reveal about your consumers and their usage behaviors?


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