Focus groups have long been an important strategy for market research agencies that want to help their clients discover the thoughts and desires of their customers (or would-be customers). But market research online communities (MROCs) are a modern, super-charged version of the focus group that has a wealth of extra advantages to offer companies looking to utilize the latest and greatest market research methods.
Here are our top 10 reasons why you should be including MROCs in your current client proposals:
1. A Great Way to Engage with Customers
In the modern marketing world, some people make the mistake of thinking social media is the be-all and end-all of consumer engagement. While that is certainly an important way to reach out, you can’t ignore the value of the ‘deep dive’ that comes with a focus group. MROCs are the best of both worlds, facilitating online engagement that yields more in-depth insights than you can get from your average social media platform.
2. Mobile Research For a Mobile World
Market research online communities are a great way to reach users on the go. Respondents can participate in the community while using their smartphone or tablet from wherever they happen to be. Making it easier for them to participate during, for instance, their commute to work or while on an out-of-town trip also means they are more likely to be active, committed participants who contribute regularly.
3. Take Advantage of Digital Tools and Technologies
Not only do market research online communities meet modern consumers where they spend the majority of their time, they also encourage them to use their favourite tech, like smartphones. Taking photos of products while they’re out shopping or recording video diaries of their experiences are just a couple of the ways that participants might share their responses with the community.
4. Reach the Younger Demographic
Millennials live their lives online and so it can sometimes be difficult to get this demographic to sign-up for traditional market research such as focus groups. MROCs are especially appealing to the Millennials that most modern companies are anxious to engage with because they are based on the internet, and are particularly friendly for people who like to communicate through mobile technology.
5. No Travel Issues or Costs
With regular focus groups, where the participants and the people running the group all have to meet in one place, the logistics and cost of travel has to be considered. That can mean everything from the cost of plane tickets if the client wants to be flown in, to simply worrying that traffic jams will make some participants late. Those problems are gone, though, with an MROC, where everyone is participating from the comfort of wherever they are.
6. Get More People in on the Conversation
Geography doesn’t play a role where MROCs are concerned, the possibilities for who and how many people can participate is greatly expanded. You can gather a more diverse pool of respondents from multiple locations, and what’s more, you can fill your MROC with a much larger number of people than you could ever hope to fit in one room for a focus group.
7. Greater Convenience for Everyone Involved
You can’t beat MROCs for simple convenience. Participants who lead busy lives can log into the community at whatever time happens to suit them. If they can’t spare one lengthy chunk of time to participate, they can log in for shorter periods of time. This flexibility is likely to make participants more enthusiastic about being active in the group, and it’s also liable to make them more likely to sign up for the MROC in the first place. Further, because MROCs are so convenient for respondents, you can run them for long periods of time – for example 12 months – and track behaviour and analyse the changes, which is another added benefit that MROCs have over traditional methods.
8. The Benefits of a Community
The key word in market research online community is community. MROCs offer a unique market research opportunity in that they actually give the participants time to develop relationships with one another where they interact regularly, share their opinions and ideas, and have genuine discussions among themselves. This community dynamic nurtures responses from participants that are more authentic and natural. Your client will appreciate being able to listen in and learn how consumers are honestly reacting to their product or service in a community that is designed specifically for the purpose.
9. Uncover the Thoughts of Shy Types
As any market research professional knows, not all research respondents are quick to say what they’re thinking. People who are somewhat reserved or have a more contemplative nature may be slow to share their opinions, particularly in a group setting where they might fear being judged or offending someone. But a market research online community is often a much more comfortable atmosphere for these types of respondents, making them more apt to open up about their thoughts.
10. Enjoy Immediate Insights
While the full benefits of a market research online community can unfold over a period of days, weeks, or months, depending on how long you want to run it for, MROCs still have the advantage of providing you and your clients with a regular stream of feedback in real time.