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Why Aren't My Study Results 100%? Understand Data Variations

As a wellness brand participating in a clinical trial or consumer perception study with Citruslabs, you have embarked on a journey to gather scientific evidence and validate the efficacy of your products. However, it's important to understand that clinical study results may not always reach 100% perfection. In fact, data points that appear too perfect can lead to skepticism among consumers. Let’s explore the reasons why study results may not be 100% and why embracing imperfection can actually enhance credibility and trust in your brand.


What do we mean by “not 100%”?

After completing a study, you’ll receive a study report detailing and summarizing our findings. At the end of the report, we interpret the data and provide example claims. Here are some examples

  • 89% of participants reported the product improved their skin hydration

  • 78% noticed their hair appears fuller and thicker

  • 92% felt calmer and experienced a more balanced mood


These are example claims that brands will use on their product pages, on a dedicated science page, on labels, in advertising, and more. It’s a simple way to express the results of the research.


However, if you have full confidence in your product–whether it’s a supplement, skincare product, or superfood, you might be alarmed that your data points didn’t come back as

  • 100% of participants reported the product improved their skin hydration

  • 100% noticed their hair appears fuller and thicker

  • 100% felt calmer and experienced a more balanced mood


So let’s dive into why your results typically won’t reach 100% and why that’s perfectly okay!


Variability in Human Physiology

Human physiology is complex and can vary from person to person. Factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health can influence individual responses to wellness interventions. Clinical trials aim to capture this variability by including a diverse group of participants. The inherent individual differences contribute to slight variations in study results, making it unlikely for outcomes to be universally identical.


During our onboarding process, we go over your preferences for participant inclusion criteria. Basically, we want to know who your ideal customer is for your product. What pain points do they have that your product will solve? What characteristics make them quality participants?


Many of our brands choose to pursue a specific set of criteria such as more melanated skin, women with painful periods, people who have trouble focusing, or a specific age range, for example.


Although those factors can improve your study results if your product is effective, there will still always be a healthy variation in the outcomes.



study results mockups
Example study results

Statistical Variation and Sample Size

Statistical variation is inherent in any scientific study, including clinical trials. Results can fluctuate within a certain range due to chance or random variability. Additionally, the sample size of a study plays a crucial role in determining the precision and generalizability of the findings. Statistical power is a crucial aspect of a study and to determine a sample size, you should do a power calculation. In general, smaller sample sizes may have a higher degree of variability, while larger sample sizes tend to yield more reliable and consistent results. But, it is also possible that a study has too much statistical power. Once a study is adequately powered, there is no need to add more participants just for the sake of having a bigger sample.



Building Credibility with Imperfect Data

In a world where consumer reviews are paid, influencers are touting the next-best ingredient in exchange for sponsorship, and the options are endless, it’s no wonder the wellness consumer is apprehensive and doing more research on their own. Clinical research might be the last ethical, unbiased source for consumers to make informed choices.


Data points that are too perfect can raise suspicion among consumers. Unrealistically flawless results may be viewed with skepticism, as they can be seen as an attempt to manipulate or mislead. Consumers may also wonder about the specifics of your trial. How many people were included in the trial? What methods were used to test this product? A healthy dose of curiosity is always great for a consumer doing their own research, but if you don’t cite your source or otherwise introduce bias into the study, you might turn a curious customer into a skeptic.


Embracing imperfection and openly acknowledging the limitations and nuances of clinical study results can actually enhance credibility and build trust with your audience. Transparent communication about the challenges and complexities of the research process demonstrates your commitment to honest and evidence-based practices.


We adhere to scientific rigor and precision in clinical trials, but it's important to recognize that results may not always reach the elusive 100% mark. Variability in human physiology, statistical variation, and sample size considerations all contribute to the variability in clinical study results. By embracing imperfection and openly addressing these limitations, wellness brands participating in clinical trials with Citruslabs can build credibility and foster consumer trust. Remember, it's not about achieving perfection but about the commitment to transparency, scientific integrity, and the pursuit of evidence-backed claims.


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