Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of market research is the Nielsen ratings system that started in the 1920s as a way of measuring radio audiences to understand which programming content was most popular. Today, market leading companies use market research for everything from testing new ideas and products, determining new market opportunities, tracking brand awareness, and measuring customer satisfaction – and these are only a small example of all the uses of market research.
Traditional Market Research or Market Research Online Communities?
It’s not a question of whether market research is a necessary tool for increasing market share and growing an organization, it’s more a question of what type of market research is right for your company’s goals, timing, and budget.
When we think of traditional market research we think of focus groups and quantitative studies. It wasn’t that long ago that offline research was considered the norm and that online research would be biased because such a small percentage of the population was using the internet. Of course, the tables have turned. Some people don’t give phone surveys the courtesy of a “no, thank you” and simply hang up; surveys in the mail are frequently discarded with barely a glance. Today, not including online users would almost certainly skew your results unless you were specifically researching users who don’t use the internet.
Most Companies Are Using Online Insight Communities and There Are Good Reasons Why
Most companies are using insight communities because they are cost-effective, efficient, accessible, and they represent the way that customers often want to interact with companies. Compared to tools such as focus groups, for example, insight communities have a lower cost per engagement since people are already recruited, and you don’t have to worry about travel which not only consumes more budget, but time as well.
Online insight communities are an extremely efficient and fast way of gathering information, getting feedback, and interacting with customers in a number of formats. You can easily reach out to your community and get customers to participate in a survey, and then contact the same set of participants for a follow-up survey. This type of efficient follow-up is extremely difficult to do successfully with traditional market research tools. You’re also able to get a much higher number of responses, which means more feedback, quicker.
An insight community also offers much more accessibility to participants and sophisticated capabilities. The advanced technology used within insight communities makes participation easy for customers since they can use their desktops, tablets, or smartphones to access tools including surveys, polls, discussions, collages, and others. And an insight community gives you the opportunity to easily access and interact with up to ten times as many customers as a typical focus group engagement. In addition, it is much easier to analyze data using a community platform than simply watching video or reading transcripts.
Finally, because of the way that technology impacts consumers’ buying decisions today, from conducting research on company websites, reading customer reviews, and getting word-of-mouth recommendations on social media, to making the purchase itself, there’s a good chance that for most companies, an insight community – or market research online community (MROC) – makes sense. Having more sophisticated consumers requires a more sophisticated way of interacting with them, which is why approximately 60% of companies today are already using online communities as part of their research, and more than 20% are considering them.
Some Projects May Require Additional Traditional Tools Beyond an Insight Community
When it comes to traditional market research or an insight community, there’s no requirement to make a choice to exclusively use only one or the other method. There are certain types of research projects that do require specialty research tools. There is some subset of focus groups where an in-person hands-on experience is specifically desired to meet the goals of the research. For example, some research studies can benefit from moderators being able to see participants’ reactions and record their body language. But you can think of your online insight community as the hub for all your research efforts. If you do have a study that could benefit from a focus group, you can recruit right from your community. This would also allow for easy and more extensive follow-up research.
An insight community can be your primary market research tool, but it doesn’t mean that other tools will never be used for some projects. Your community is a cost-effective, versatile, and flexible tool that can handle the majority of your research needs, as well as complement other efforts.
My-Take is a greater Boston based insight and marketing technology company that helps companies make smarter decisions and market more effectively through powerful online communities and panels. If you have questions about how an insight community can benefit your research efforts and help your company deliver more value to your customers, click the button below to contact us for a free consultation.