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Choosing the Right CRO: Guide for Consumer Brands



In the quest to create science-backed product claims, choosing the right Contract Research Organization (CRO) can make a huge difference. CROs are essential partners for consumer brands who want to back up their product claims with scientific evidence. However, there are many CROs available to your brand, making it essential to go in armed with as much information as possible. That’s why we have put together a guide to provide brands with essential tips and criteria to consider when selecting a CRO to partner with on your research.


1. Expertise and Specialization

Tip: Look for a CRO with expertise in your industry and specific research needs.


It’s important to know that not every CRO specializes in consumer brands, and those that do may not have the expertise that your products specifically require. Picking a CRO that has knowledge and experience in your niche will enable them to better understand your goals and challenges, which will give you more tailored and effective research designs.


2. Reputation and Track Record

Tip: Research the CRO's reputation, client testimonials, and past projects.


A CRO's track record is a reflection of their capabilities and the kinds of projects where their expertise shines. Seek out reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gauge their performance and reliability. Many CROs will have this published on their websites, or available upon request from potential clients. It may be helpful to take a look at the brands a CRO has worked with and study the kinds of claims created, to assess whether the product claims you want to support are along the same vein.


3. Regulatory Compliance

Tip: Ensure the CRO has a strong track record of compliance with regulatory authorities.


Compliance with regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is critical when conducting research to support your product claims. Working with a CRO makes it much easier to follow these regulatory requirements, but you should still verify that the CRO has a history of adhering to relevant regulations and standards to avoid any legal complications down the line.


4. Data Quality and Integrity

Tip: Inquire about the CRO's data collection, management, and quality control processes.


Working with a CRO is a great way to ensure higher data quality - they’re the experts after all! It is still important to do your due diligence and ask potential CROs about their data collection and management practices. This should include any of their quality control measures, so you can ensure the accuracy and reliability of your results.


5. Capabilities and Facilities

Tip: Assess the CRO's infrastructure, technology, and equipment.


A CRO's capabilities and facilities directly impact the quality and efficiency of your research. Ensure they have access to the equipment and resources needed to conduct your specific studies effectively. This can mean finding out if your CRo offers digital or hybrid services too, as these are on the rise and offer a great solution for many brands. Digital clinical trials let participants get involved from their own homes and can be a fantastic tool for saving time and money without sacrificing data quality.


6. Budget and Cost Transparency

Tip: Request detailed cost breakdowns and ensure transparency in pricing.


Understanding the cost structure is vital to budgeting for your research accurately. Be on the lookout for a CRO that provides clear, itemized cost breakdowns and is transparent about pricing to avoid unpleasant surprises later down the road.


7. Timelines and Project Management

Tip: Inquire about project timelines and the CRO’s approach to project management.


As with any large undertaking, efficient project management is crucial for meeting deadlines and ensuring your research stays on track. Clinical trials in particular are vulnerable to attrition of participants over time, so consider asking about the CRO’s patient engagement strategies to get some information about how they prevent this.


8. Communication and Collaboration

Tip: Evaluate their communication style and willingness to collaborate.


Strong communication and collaboration are key to any successful partnership, and clinical research is no different. Assess the CRO's communication style, responsiveness, and willingness to work closely with your team throughout the research process. Your first impressions of the team matter here, because you’ll likely be paired up for up to several months!


9. Flexibility and Customization

Tip: Seek a CRO that can customize its services to meet your unique needs.


The best CROs understand that every research project is unique. Look for a CRO that is flexible and willing to tailor their services to your specific goals and needs, ensuring that your research reflects your brand appropriately.


Wrapping Up

With a little forethought and research, you can find a Contract Research Organization (CRO) that meets your brand needs and begin the process of providing support for your product claims. It is important for you to consider factors such as the CRO’s communication style, participant engagement approach, and technological resources (are they offering virtual or hybrid models?). Ultimately, partnering with a great CRO will ensure your brand receives expert guidance on every stage of the research process.


Want to create your own product claims?

Citruslabs provides a simple and affordable way to prove that your products actually work. At Citruslabs, we design a clinical trial that is right for you and your budget, so you can start sharing research-backed product claims without spending a fortune. We offer the cohesive planning and management required to conduct successful clinical trials, from start to finish. Ready to get started? Let's talk! You can contact us here.

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