Undoubtably one of the most influential people in the market research industry would have to be Ray Poynter. He leads the way in terms of looking at new trends within our industry and is constantly coming up with great new content that he regularly shares on Twitter and his website. In his most recent post on his blog he discusses why he thinks market research online communities will be even bigger in 2021, and the four key causes that are causing the increase which he indicates are COVID-19, data quality, easy to access research participants and tools, and customer centricity.
The History of Communities
Communities were introduced nearly 20 years ago. At that time they were rather expensive, and adoption was low. Fast forward to now and Ray states that almost every international company has a community and most of them have multiple communities with various suppliers. He goes on to state that with the current COVID-19 crisis, concerns regarding data quality, downward turn in research budgets and increase in customer focus that communities are becoming more important than ever.
COVID-19 and Research
Like workplaces, research has moved from face-to-face to predominately being done online. While some companies were conducting online research through Skype and Zoom in the past, face-to-face research was predominate. With the current state of the world, now it is almost purely online. COVID-19 has impacted research, with many companies experiencing a 20-25% decrease in research revenues. Mr. Poynter states, "Companies with long-term communities have diverted more of their research projects to their communities – enabling them to do more with less." This increase in communities has been seen with long term and short term communities as the tools, and processes are faster and can be done for a lot cheaper.
Another reason that communities have been growing is that long term communities provide a source of reliable data. A concern with using large online panels to meet research responses has been the threat of fraudulent respondents, and or bots that are programmed to complete surveys for these fraudulent accounts. With long term communities, community managers get to know who the members are over time, and they can flag suspicious accounts where individuals are trying to sign up with multiple accounts to receive rewards.
The research landscape has been changing rapidly. In the past companies hired outside research agencies which were commissioned by internal research teams and now a lot of the research is done in house, and the demand for faster researcher has increased. Different departments within an organization are wanting feedback on design, marketing and advertising and don't want to wait months for the research team to conduct a study. This has led to an increase in DIY research, and insight communities have helped facilitate the need for faster research. Mr Poynter points out that "communities reduce the risk of conducting research, because of its standardized tools and approaches – which makes communities suitable for non-market researchers to conduct primary market research."
The Customer not the Product
Mr. Poynter points out that in the past companies predominately focused on building better products and less on the customer. The old adage of build it better than the competition and you win. Now, with most companies producing strong reliable products has caused a shift to take place where the focus is on the customer or potential customer and their habits and how they find the "pathways to purchase."Long-term communities address this connection with the customer and put the focus on building products for your customers, rather than find customers for your products.
If you are looking for a longterm approach using market research online communities to build relationships with your customers and want to speed up the research process with strong reliable tools please do not hesitate to contact us.