“Consumer feedback that companies collect by tapping into their own loyal base of followers is valuable, but it does not replace claims substantiation clinical testing at a third party, independent FDA registered lab. It does help provide excellent insight as to how we can fine tune and streamline the clinicals to get the most out of them. The more preliminary data we have, whether it’s in vivo, in vitro or simply consumer perception, the better.” —Jane Tervooren, Validated Claim Support
“During development I think this would be a great approach, but I don’t see how you can get safety determinations from a group like this. Additionally, to evaluate an efficacy claim you would need an impartial evaluator which would not allow you to use your ‘fans.’ To get a clinically-relevant, objective evaluation, the evaluation needs to be conducted by trained personnel.” —Craig Weiss, Consumer Product Testing Co.
“Companies are beginning to realize that their entire process supporting the introduction of new cosmetics can be part of their marketing story to encourage the purchase of their brand since vegan/cruelty free/non-animal 100% now co-exist. Labeling and promotion pieces can be developed to separate brands, one from another. We are providing some of the wording that marketers are able to use with confidence now.” — Atul Jhalani, InVitro International
“This is an interesting concept and one that has been around for a long time, even prior to social media. There is certainly a place for consumer testing, but it cannot replace rigorous scientific testing for safety and efficacy. That needs to be lab-based or conducted through a controlled clinical trial.” — Rishabh Kala, Genemarkers
“This seems like a useful, but limited, strategy. It would seem highly useful to obtain a preliminary product impression from those who are already brand loyal. But the strategy is limited due to the inherent risk of bias in restricting your subject pool to those that are “fans” of the brand. As a CRO we are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to recruiting subjects who are blinded to the identity of the sponsoring company. We cannot, for example, tout that we are testing XYZ’s products to encourage subjects to participate in studies conducted by well-known and well-respected brands. If XYZ conducts tests at its facility, their industry reputation will no doubt ease their recruitment struggles as brand trust will undoubtedly increase the willingness to participate when you otherwise may be unwilling to subject yourself to the unknown. While the anonymity of the sponsor makes our recruiting more challenging, we also think it makes the resulting data more reliable, as it is not subject to brand bias.” —Tracey Baubie, Comprehensive Research Group
“Consumers can’t do their own microbial testing, so the expectation is personal care manufacturers are doing everything to ensure that their products are safe and efficacious. It is important that Charles River Labs works closely with manufacturers to understand their quality control issues and opportunities for mitigation so they are able to produce quality products for consumers while improving production efficiency.” —Anne Wagnor, Charles River
“Subjective feedback from the consumer is, and has been, one of the most widely utilized and accepted forms of testing. The user experience during the testing phase captures the likes, dislikes and wants in regards to the specific product. Something as simple as a fragrance or a texture may dissuade a consumer from a repeat sale. Harvesting this information before a product is marketed is highly suggested. When it comes to testing, it is best to consult one’s own legal and regulatory agents to make the most informed decision as far as protocol development. FDA guidance and industry consensus is still the standard in testing when it comes to protocol development, but we do create our protocols to showcase the latest trends or concerns.” —Neil Zimbaldi, Advanced Science Laboratories
For more on testing services and insight from these experts, check out Happi’s October issue.