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Affordable Ways to Achieve Research-Backed Product Claims for Consumer Brands

In today's market, consumers are more educated about the products they purchase than ever before. This is why substantiating your product claims with credible research is not just beneficial—it's essential. However, the cost of rigorous clinical trials, like randomized controlled trials (RCTs), which, with their double-blind placebo-controlled trials, are often called the "gold standard," can be prohibitive for many brands. Fortunately, there are more affordable methods to obtain research-backed claims that satisfy regulatory bodies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Advertising Division (NAD). The key lies in the transparency and honesty of your study design and findings. Here’s how you can leverage single-group studies and consumer perception studies to support your product claims effectively and economically.

Skincare products and supplements

Single Group Studies

Single-group studies are a straightforward and cost-effective approach to research. In this design, a product is tested on only ONE group of participants without a placebo group or control group for comparison. The outcomes are solely based on the changes observed in the participants after using the product over a specified period.


  • Cost-Effective: With no need for a placebo or control group, the logistical and financial requirements are significantly lower.

  • Simpler Setup and Execution: These studies are easier to design and can be conducted more quickly, allowing for faster time-to-market with substantiated claims.


  • Less Conclusive: Without a control group, it’s difficult to definitively attribute results to the product alone, as other external factors could influence the outcomes.

FTC and NAD Considerations:

While not as robust as RCTs, single-group studies can still be valuable if the limitations are clearly communicated. Transparency about the study's design, including its lack of a control group, helps maintain credibility and aligns with the FTC and NAD's emphasis on honest advertising.

Consumer Perception Studies

Consumer perception studies involve surveying users after product use to gather data on their personal experiences and opinions. This method is particularly useful for subjective claims related to user satisfaction and product efficacy based on personal perception.


  • Direct Consumer Feedback: These studies provide direct insights into how real users feel about a product, which can be compelling marketing material.

  • Flexibility and Relevance: The format can be tailored to address specific aspects of the product that are most relevant to potential customers.


  • Subjective Data: Results are based on personal opinions, which can vary widely and are influenced by individual expectations and experiences.

FTC and NAD Considerations:

The FTC and NAD recognize the value of consumer perception studies but require that the findings from these studies are presented as subjective opinions rather than objective facts. As long as the promotional material specifies that the claims are based on user perceptions, this method aligns with regulatory standards.

As you can see, both single-group studies and consumer perception studies offer cost-effective alternatives to RCTs for supporting product claims. The critical factor, as emphasized by the FTC and NAD, is transparency. Clearly communicating the nature of your study and the basis of your claims helps build trust with consumers and ensures compliance with advertising standards. By being upfront about the methodologies used and the scope of your findings, your brand can effectively use these affordable research strategies to back its claims and stand out in a competitive marketplace. Engaging in honest and transparent marketing not only meets regulatory expectations but also fosters a loyal customer base empowered by accurate information to make informed choices.

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