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Best HUT (home-use test) practices using EyeQuestion

During the current times of the COVID-19 pandemic, government and health authorities globally are advising people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, conducting sensory tests in a research facility (central location test) have become physically impossible and companies are making a switch to home-use tests.

With EyeQuestion being a web-based application supported by all browsers (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, etc.) means that data collection can be done from anywhere in the world, only requiring internet connectivity. Panelists can access questionnaires through their laptops, desktops, tablets or smart phones.

For some of you, running HUT’s might be new and challenging. Therefore, we would like to share tips on how to efficiently conduct home-use tests using EyeQuestion and also focus on some critical factors that you should consider when designing the questionnaire.

Please take the following tips into considerations when creating a HUT questionnaire in EyeQuestion:

  • Set the design settings to “automatically”. This ensures that the set assignment is done automatically. The first respondent that starts will get set 1, the second respondent that starts will get set 2 and so on. To ensure panelists evaluate the right sample, use set validation as “confirm samplecode”. Please take into consideration depending upon your design (monadic or block) the set validation options might differ. In case of a monadic design, you can use the “confirm samplecode” option. However, in case of blocked design it is not possible to use this option, but you will be able to use “confirm blockcode”. If you would like to show the product codes as well for a blocked design, a placeholder can be used to display the product codes of each block. This information is available in our manual (navigation: building your questionnaire>adding questions/screens/placeholders).
  • It is not needed to allocate the questionnaire to a booth. EyeQuestion allows to send automatic project invites to the panelists. This invite will include the link to the questionnaire so that the panelist can answer from any device at home. The project invites can be sent for specific sessions as well. You can find more information about this topic in our manual (navigation: deploy & run your project>setting up panel). If panelists don’t answer to the questionnaire then reminder emails can also be sent.
  • Monitor your sessions. Using the portal monitor it is possible to monitor the HUT sessions when they are not allocated to the booth. You can find this monitor in the main menu>monitor>portal.
  • Amount of online users. If you are planning to run the test using panelist logins, please take into consideration the number of concurrent users allowed in your license (the number of users who can login to EQ at the same time).
  • Make sure EyeQuestion is accessible. Before sending invites/deploy links to the panelists, please make sure the application is accessible on your personal network (not company Wi-Fi). Some companies do not allow the use of EyeQuestion outside their facility network. If the server is on-premises, then please check with your IT. If your system is not available outside your company network and you do want to run a home-use test please contact us and we can supply you with a temporary system that can be reached through the internet.
  • Questions? Contact us. Please do not hesitate to contact our support helpdesk (support@eyequestion) if you need any further help to set up and distribute your HUT questionnaire.

What are the benefits of home-use tests?

HUT’s offer convenience to the panelists as the samples are delivered to their doorstep and they can answer the questionnaire online. This saves the commute time to the research facility which will ensure a higher participation rate than CLT. Home-use tests also allow a wider audience to be reached. Finally, due to the product evaluation being done by panelists in their natural environment i.e. their home, the hedonic data collected from such study is more realistic than from CLT (Boutrolle I, Delarue J, Arranz D, Rogeaux M, Köster EP. Central location test vs. home use test: Contrasting results depending on product type. Food Quality and Preference. 2007;18(3):490-499.).

Things to consider when doing home-use tests.

Alongside advantages, HUT’s also have certain limitations. In order to ensure the success of your study, please consider the following critical points:

  • Type of product tested: products that have a longer shelf life like tea, coffee, candies, sauces and personal care items will be more suitable than perishable items that can be damaged during transportation.
  • The design that is being used: the number of products and time interval between the samples are important. Since the evaluation is taking place in an uncontrolled environment, the number of products should be limited otherwise the panelists might not evaluate them all.
  • The budget: the sample needs to be shipped to the panelist so consider the additional logistic costs.