The beauty and personal care companies are not immune to the challenges faced by others: cash flow issues, lower consumer demand, a reduced retail channel, shuttered stores and manufacturing plants, employee layoffs and supply chain lags and interruptions.
Stay at home mandates and social distancing has also created a near shut down in clinical safety testing and performance testing that rely on in-person visits from study participants. Testing is a critical asset for ensuring product safety, substantiating claims, legal and regulatory risk mitigation and ensuring successful product launches.
So what is a beauty and personal care brand to do? The following special report offers tips for brands that want to proactively plan for life after Covid-19 and ensure they are prepared when business enters its “new normal” era.
Market Conditions Impacting Testing and Research
As of April 15th, 316 million Americans in 42 states are under state shelter-in-place mandates, bringing business as we know it to a screeching halt. While many have lost their jobs, others have moved their offices home, and excursions from home are limited to essential travel. Social distancing has ceased business processes and procedures that require physical human contact.
HRIPT Comes to a Halt
Although clinical labs are considered essential and some are still conducting specific testing, many labs have discontinued Human Repeat Irritation Patch Testing and lab-based In-Use Studies. Although HRIPT is not federally mandated, conducting HRIPT testing is considered an industry best practice and the precursor to a product launch to ensure product safety. Gathering subjects for in-use studies are used to substantiate claims and garner critical product performance measurements.
The inability to conduct in-use studies for claims substantiation removes a powerful tool from a company’s launch arsenal, while potentially putting them at risk.
Supply Chain Disruption
Beauty and personal care brands are experiencing unprecedented supply chain disruption. Factors contributing to the disruption in the supply chain range from a heavy reliance on raw ingredients from abroad, a rise in demand for specific products while demand plummets for others, the closing of manufacturing plants due to high infection rates and the closing of retailers, among others. These supply chain disruptions result in lower productivity, halted manufacturing of finished goods, unavailability of testing samples and in the case of locked-down buildings, lack of access to samples required for testing.
Tips for managing current testing based on a product’s launch schedule
With closures and supply chain lags and breakages, several testing scenarios are becoming commonplace. In an effort to assist brands with these challenges, TBC offers the following recommendations and tips.
Scenario 1: Your brand has already engaged a lab for a clinical trial but the trial is on hold until stay-at-home mandates are lifted.
Recommended solution: Consult the clinical lab to determine if you can redirect your investment toward a small-scale in-home use test to gauge consumer perception using the already recruited panelists. Feedback from these panelists can provide you with valuable feedback regarding sensorial attributes and perceived benefits of using the product.
Keep in mind, a small-scale in-home use study conducted in one geographic location should not be used to substantiate claims but can provide useful marketing insights.
Scenario 2: Your brand needs to stick to your product launch schedule, but the clinical labs are closed.
Recommended solution: If your product launch arsenal includes in-use testing for clinical claims, consider the alternative of an IHUT test for claims substantiation. Research demonstrates the beauty and personal care consumer considers consumer perception claims more influential in her/his purchase decision than clinical claims. Why? Because consumers trust the feedback of consumers like them, with similar concerns. Additionally, IHUT tests are designed to utilize a nationwide panel and meet ASTM standards for statistical relevance.
IHUT testing is conducted using a process that does not require panelists to physically check-in to a lab. Products are sent to the panelists in their own home and then evaluated using a specific protocol. Claims are then ranked online. IHUT testing can be conducted on a compressed schedule, leveraging expedited shipping to ensure your brand is able to meet important timing milestones.
In the meantime, use this time to plan future IHUT and clinical tests. Once businesses open up, clinical labs and research firms will be flooded with projects that were previously delayed. Booking your tests in advance ensures you will not lose additional time.
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