Updated: Jan 3
Written by: Larry Goodfellow
Why Market Research Online Communities Needs to Be Rebranded
Market Research Online Communities (MROC’s), by the name elicits vague illusions to what it might be. If your company was new and looking to research what an MROC is, it is hard to find a clear definition. Combined with the fact that when you type in the words online communities you get such things as Facebook showing up in the search results can lead to even more confusion. When searching on sites like Capterra, and Greenbook that promote Market Research Online Community software sellers, you get companies appearing in the same category offering panel software, and community software as though the two are interchangeable. So what is the solution? If Market Research Online Communities was a brand, and they walked into an ad agency, the first thing the agency would or should do is tell them to change their name and rebrand. We are going to use this article to look at what a possible rebrand would look like.
Possible Rebranding Considerations
Before discarding the shell of the former name we must first think of the good things that we want to keep about the concept behind our name. To do so we need to break down the meaning behind our brand title. Our brand’s purpose when first started was market research. However, other organizations began seeing the benefit of this software, cities in particular. So now the term market research seems too specific. This broadening of users makes us shift to the word “research.” The purpose being to finding out information outside the immediate scope of the company or organization’s staff or managers. Drawing upon the concept that the sum is greater than the parts. It is this sum that we are looking to research and tap into.
Next we look at the word, “online.” This word was first used to define the fact that the information was no longer gathered in the traditional person-to-person style focus group. In 2008, going online was still an activity that large segments of the population didn’t do, or were only slowly becoming familiar with. Now that we are in 2017, identifying the word Online seems less important. Perhaps we can delete this word, as the paradigm has shifted? We no longer need to differentiate between online and traditional.
Now for the word Community. This word creates all kinds of confusion because of the social media sites that people use to interact with their friends, families, colleagues and strangers. One of the most popular of these sites is Facebook which is described as an online community. We want to differentiate MROC’s from the larger more vague term of online communities. Market Research Online Communities are completely different from what is now defined as an online community. A more accurate term would show that it is for specific individuals with similar interests while an online community suggests universal application. The word closer to what MROC’s denotes, would be the word “clique” minus the negative connotations that are often associated with the word. The main idea being, a group with a shared interest. Typing clique into the thesaurus looking for a more positive alternative I find in-group. The definition for in-group is as follows: “noun. Sociology. A group of people sharing similar interests and attitudes, producing feelings of solidarity, community, and exclusivity.”
A Community is not a Panel
Next the differences between a panel and a community must be clearly defined. Panels and communities are different, and serve different purposes. A panel consists of respondents in the thousands while a community is in the hundreds. Respondents in a panel participate predominantly in quantitative research and are selected as random samples. While quantitative research is the main form of research, there can be instances of using qualitative research in samples from this larger group. The respondents have no relation or very little relation to the brand or organization being researched.
A community is different. We consider an average size community to be around 800 individuals. The individuals who make up a community have vested interest in belonging to the community. Those who join a branded community, like the brand and want to help give feedback that can make the brand even better. Or for product communities, individuals join because they use the product or series of products and want to give or receive information relating to the product both for the users and the company.
Cities using the software can blur the line between communities and panels. This is because cities have large populations which can make the numbers reach the thousands. When cities purchase the software they are looking to run the group as a community and not a panel. The individuals joining have a vested interest, they live in that city. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative research is needed. The city managers are not looking to test ideas against random members that don’t live in the city which is what a panel would do. So yes, there are exceptions to the rules in terms of numbers, but in terms of purpose and research a panel and a community are very different and should be described as such.
Possible Rebranding Ideas
After outlining the importance behind the previous names used to create Market Research Online Communities we must look at possible solutions to help give clear understanding for future years and that can include future usages. Our rebranding suggestion is In-Circle Research to describe a Market Research Online Community, and Out-Circle Research to describe a panel. The In-Circle denotes members belonging with an invested interest as seen in communities. While, Out-Circle differentiates invested interest and highlights random sampling which is the essence of panels.Now we know that it is a bit late to try and rebrand Market Research Online Communities but the discussion does raise issues and hopefully this article will bring a bit of clarity as to what they are exactly and the differences between panels and communities.
If you would like to find out more about how your company can use Market Research Online Community software or possibly In-Circle Research software in the future, please contact us.
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