Author(s): Lin AH, Breger TL, Barnhart M, Kim A, Vangsgaard C, , Lin AH, Breger TL, Barnhart M, Kim A, Vangsgaard C,
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Abstract INTRODUCTION: In planning for the introduction of vaginal microbicides and other new antiretroviral (ARV)-based prevention products for women, an in-depth understanding of potential end-users will be critically important to inform strategies to optimize uptake and long-term adherence. User-centred private sector companies have contributed to the successful launch of many different types of products, employing methods drawn from behavioural and social sciences to shape product designs, marketing messages and communication channels. Examples of how the private sector has adapted and applied these techniques to make decisions around product messaging and targeting may be instructive for adaptation to microbicide introduction. DISCUSSION: In preparing to introduce a product, user-centred private sector companies employ diverse methods to understand the target population and their lifestyles, values and motivations. ReD Associates' observational research on user behaviours in the packaged food and diabetes fields illustrates how 'tag along' or 'shadowing' techniques can identify sources of non-adherence. Another open-ended method is self-documentation, and IDEO's mammography research utilized this to uncover user motivations that extended beyond health. Mapping the user journey is a quantitative approach for outlining critical decision-making stages, and Monitor Inclusive Markets applied this framework to identify toilet design opportunities for the rural poor. Through an iterative process, these various techniques can generate hypotheses on user drop-off points, quantify where drop-off is highest and prioritize areas of further research to uncover usage barriers. Although research constraints exist, these types of user-centred techniques have helped create effective messaging, product positioning and packaging of health products as well as family planning information. These methods can be applied to microbicide acceptability testing outside of clinical trials to design microbicide marketing that enhances product usage. CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of microbicide products presents an ideal opportunity to draw on the insights from user-centred private sector companies' approaches, which can complement other methods that have been more commonly utilized in microbicide research to date. As microbicides move from clinical trials to real-world implementation, there will be more opportunities to combine a variety of approaches to understand end-users, which can lead to a more effective product launch and ultimately greater impact on preventing HIV infections.
This article was published in J Int AIDS Soc
and referenced in Journal of Accounting & Marketing