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Friday, October 18, 2013

Market Research Tools: Online Research Communities

Market research online communities (MROC) make "social networking" usable for reliable marketing research. Using our specially designed research focused platforms -- a special Facebook-like community portal -- we create one to three month qualitative dialogs with your target audience.

Customized to the Research Objective

Once your target audience for the study is determined, we invite screened and carefully selected participants into the MROC study we are conducting for your brand or product category of interest. A market research online community (MROC) is a targeted group of people who are recruited into a private online venue to participate in research-related activities over an extended period of time. One way to think of them is like a large "focus group on steroids." They similar to focus groups in that they are qualitative and exploratory in nature, but offer a number of advantages over focus groups.

Online Research Community Process

Over a period of weeks, research respondents are exposed to product and brand stimuli, open-ended questions, as well as quant-like closed end questions. They interact with other respondents and engage in conversations about your product or brand.
For more details, see our discussion in our FAQ about "Qualitative versus Quantitative" market research methods.

Market Research Online Communities -- Supercharged Qualitative method

MROCs provide aspects of both behaviorial ethnography studies, and focus group studies. The MROC approach has distinct advantages:
  • Size - Research communities are typically much larger than focus groups (often measuring in hundreds of members), allowing for coverage across more target segments and the potential for hybrid qualitative/quantitative feedback.
  • Reach - Given the online format of research communities, you are able to cover a much wider geographic reach in a way that is much more efficient than conventional focus groups.
  • Depth - Given the longitudinal nature of research communities, it is possible to go much deeper on a given topic than in a focus group.
  • Breadth - Research communities allow you to cover a wide range of topics, from new product development to communications testing. See the MROC Applications page for more examples.
  • Speed - Having a targeted group at your disposal can cut the research cycle from 4-6 weeks to 1 week (or less).
  • Cost Effectiveness - Over time, research communities can save thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) over focus groups alone.

Advantages

The beauty of this leading edge method is the real-world time-extension that allows for thoughtful incubation by participants. This method provides the value of the classic market research depth interview, yet with super-charged benefits of incubation by the participant, and by the client.
As with focus groups or depth interviews, online market research communities are often used as a prelude to quantitative market studies, customer online surveys, phone surveys, and other quantitative market research. Online research communities are applicable to both business B2B market research, industrial research, and to consumer research. They are especially useful in the early stages of strategy decision-making.

Value

The main point of this exciting method is the value of getting in-depth insight into the buyer belief and attitude structure, and use this insight for business strategy development. For example, when scanning for strategic opportunities they can uncover important consumer and business buyer attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that may precede an emerging trend. Non-directive techniques and projective research techniques are especially useful in defining buyer motivations .
Different from statistically reliable public opinion and market surveys, online surveys, and other quantitative techniques, qualitative methods like online market research communities should not be used for market sizing, measuring consumer or B2B brand preference, brand position, customer satisfaction or buying or product usage behavior. They are best suited for uncovering the spectrum or range of views, beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and experiences. This helps build assumptions and generate ideas which may warrant further assessment.

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