One of the most interesting and exciting trends on the market research landscape is the emergence of market research online communities (MROCs). This involves bringing respondents together on a secure and organized online platform, so they can participate in various market research-related tasks and exercises, and engage in discussions with other members of the group.
Provided that they are developed, structured, executed and managed properly, market research online communities can be a highly cost-effective way to generate qualitative insights and actionable intelligence centered around key areas:
- Product development: how products (or services) should be designed in order to address customer goals, needs and pain points.
- Branding: how do customers perceive various brands in the marketplace, and what do they consider important (i.e. how do they rate or rank brand characteristics).
- Communications: what content should be generated to connect with customers, and what channels/touchpoints should be used to maximize engagement (e.g. web, social, mobile, in-person, etc.).
- Target audience: what motivates different customer types (i.e. buyer personas) to advance forward on the buyer’s journey — and just as importantly, what impedes their progress.
- External dynamics: how have (or will) legislative or regulatory changes impact the marketplace and customer perceptions, agendas, priorities, decision-making, etc.
MROCs vs. Online Focus Groups
While market research online communities may look much like online focus groups, they are significantly different in several areas, including:
- They typically last for months or years, whereas online focus groups are usually scheduled for days or weeks.
- The “community” aspect is heavily emphasized, and as such participants are encouraged to organically contribute and engage with others.
- The approach is to generate deep and penetrating insights of a variety of issues, often through organic conversations.
- The number of participants in a MROC can reach around 75 without diminishing engagement, whereas for online focus groups are typically limited to 10-12 participants.
- Because of the duration of MROCs and the volume of interaction, participants must be personally invested in the process (regardless of whether they are consumers or business professionals), or else they are likely to tune out and drop out before the conclusion. With this being said, some attrition is unavoidable, and as such it is important to have systems that effectively replenish the roster and keep the MROC dynamic and active.
To learn more about market research online communities, and for a clearer picture of whether this innovative and interesting method of qualitative data generation should be part of your plan and project, contact the Communications For Research team today. You’ll speak with co-CEO Colson Steber about your business and market research opportunities. He can help you find the right methodologies, give you a quote and provide feedback on any pre-existing market research plans.
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