The Evolution of
Private online communities
where a targeted group of
participants gather to discuss
research-related topics on a
weekly basis. The topics are
facilitated, with periodic
reports and recommendations
provided to the sponsoring
Social Networking Online Qualitative Market Research
& Community Tools Capabilities Online Communities
Research communities draw These “Web 2.0” tools are The combination of these
on the latest social combined with focus group tools creates an environment
networking and community capabilities that researchers where participants can
tools, including forums, need, including member connect and collaborate,
blogs, photo sharing, proﬁle management and database while sharing their feedback
pages, friends/connections, ﬁltering, points and incentive through ongoing discussions
etc..., combining them in a management capabilities, and surveys.
way that allows research transcript downloads, etc...
participants to connect and
share their thoughts.
“Market research online communities
(MROCs) will shock the qualitative
market research world. They provide
cheaper, faster and newer types of
insights that today’s traditional qualitative
research modes, such as focus groups,
don’t currently provide.”
Faster... Cheaper... Better...
Communities can cut the By tapping into a targeted Communities help
research cycle time from group of participants on researchers get a unique
3-4 weeks to 1 week (or an ongoing basis, perspective into the
less), helping companies companies can save lives of participants,
make timely decisions thousands in recruiting, truly understand their
and speed the product incentives, facility rental needs, and collaborate
development cycle. and travel costs. with them in ways that
are not possible through
Venue for members to
Identify and track trends among Qualitative tracking of brand
express themselves (via blogs
a targeted audience over an perceptions alongside
and photos, user generated
extended period of time competitive brands
Place to launch exploratory
Formative and to additional
Generate ideas for new products
and services alongside research around new markets,
options (e.g. invoke, iMarkit)
prospective customers audiences or topics
Reﬁne product concepts and
Evaluate customer experiences
continually collaborate on
through product diaries, blogs,
iterations of concepts
discussions and surveys
(Among many other applications... Communities are a very ﬂexible research methodology.)
Project Communities Shared Communities Ongoing Communities
Communities can be very Research and consulting ﬁrms Ongoing communities that last for
effective when used on a small- that have an expertise in speciﬁc many months or years can be
scale and short-term basis. For segments or industries may ﬁnd a useful in an advisory capacity,
example, a community of 50-100 multi-client “shared” community where companies are tapping into
participants over 3 months can be to be an effective way of using the community for their feedback
effective as a replacement for communities. For example, a on a wide range of topics. These
multi-city focus group studies. company may setup a single communities tend to be larger
These project-based communities ongoing community and run (200+ members) and designed
can be valuable for “deep-dives” smaller ad-hoc or syndicated around a particular brand,
on a targeted set of objectives. studies inside of the community product or service.
for multiple clients.
While “point-in-time” in-person methodologies like focus groups and in-depth
interviews allow you to see participants facial reactions as they discuss a topic in real-
time, they lack the ability to continually collaborate with and learn about participants
after the session is over. The extended approach of an online community allows for a
much deeper understanding of an audience and their needs over time.
Online bulletin board and chat-style focus groups are a quick and efﬁcient way of
conducting qualitative market research. However, they too are a “point-in-time”
methodology, and lack the ability to explore a research topic from multiple angles,
while really getting to collaborate with and learn about participants.
Online Focus Groups
Communities are primarily a qualitative methodology and should not be considered
as a replacement for online survey research. However, they can serve as a venue to
launch online surveys to a targeted group. They are also effective in understanding
Surveys the “why” behind the “what” of an online survey.
Community Details &
Research community sizes vary, although most are between 50-300 people. We
Size typically recommend around 150 participants to keep the feedback manageable
while encouraging connection among members.
The duration also varies by the objectives. Communities are typically at least one
Duration month, although they can last years. We’ve found great results with research
communities that last between 3-6 months.
Market research communities are primarily a qualitative methodology, although it
Mode is possible to obtain hybrid qualitative and quantitative feedback through a larger
Communities can be built around a targeted set of objectives (e.g., new product
Focus development, ad testing, website redesign, etc...), or address a wider set of
objectives (e.g., general audience understanding).
The output is similar to other online qualitative studies. Transcripts from all
Output research activities are available immediately, with ongoing reports delivered in
presentation or newsletter-style formats.