Think about the last twenty years: Increasingly, people have looked to technology to provide solutions for everyday tasks. We’ve moved from snail mail to email; from paper catalogs to online ordering; from books to eReaders; from blind dates to dating websites; from local banking to mobile deposits; from yearbooks to Facebook. It’s evident that the Internet provides an often faster and easier way to get things done. In the world of market research, it’s no different. Processes that used to be done in person can now be completed virtually. Paper surveys can now be distributed electronically. Trends can be spotted via social media sites. Detailed and time-consuming print graphics can be replaced with dynamic dashboards. And instead of focus groups, researchers can utilize market research online communities (MROC). An online research community takes the format of the typical focus group and tweaks it for 21st century. It is a qualitative research method that gathers 50-150 people in a virtual setting and provides a moderator to observe members’ opinions and feedback regarding a product, service or concept, as well as their interactions amongst one another.
Take a look at four benefits of online research communities:
Members of online research communities do not have to be in a certain location to participate; they can access and engage in discussion from anywhere in the world at any time because they utilize computers or mobile devices to log in whenever it’s convenient.
Because each online research community typically entails 50-150 participants (as opposed to a traditional focus group of 6-10 individuals), there are more people from whom the moderator can gather data, observing their interactions and recording their ideas and perceptions. Put simply, a larger number of participants means more insight. And more insight means a greater chance for meaningful outcomes.
Gone are the days of arranging complicated travel plans, securing a meeting spot, catering food and paying for it all! Market research online communities eliminate the need for costly event arrangements and the time it takes to schedule them because there is no “event.” There is simply a commitment from members of the community to provide information. And because there are no barriers to the time nor location of that discussion of information, companies can gather more insights from more people in less time. In the past, companies would need to conduct multiple focus group sessions. Now they can use a single online research community to provide the same, if not larger, amount of data. All of this means precious project dollars can be diverted to other costs.
As mentioned, the traditional focus group takes time to plan, organize and conduct. And companies frequently need to oversee more than one to obtain the data necessary to extract any useful results down the road. Online research communities, on the other hand, (once established) are available 24/7. They can provide nearly instantaneous feedback to questions and concerns because they can be delivered to and addressed by MROC members in real time. Companies don’t need to wait for valuable data; they can continuously cultivate it instead.
There are many benefits of market research online communities. However, there are no absolutes when determining what your company should or shouldn’t do to garner actionable results and increase ROI. Communications for Research has twenty years experience creating personalized research plans that make sense for each of our partners. Contact us to learn how we can help you.
For more information on the benefits of choosing the right research partner, you may also download our FREE eBook, 6 Keys to Accelerate Growth with the Right Field Data Collection Partner!