The Internet is prevalent now more than ever in many different types of communities and covers a wide variety of interests. For instance, let’s say you have a passion for Pogs (a game played with cardboard discs that was a popular fad in the early ’90s). If you took that passion for Pogs online, you’d find many other Pog enthusiasts. You’d even be able to find Pog dealers on eBay and some outside of eBay. And if you didn’t know how to play the game, there are plenty of sites for instruction. And that’s just scratching the surface.
The Internet, however, is not just about “brand fanatics” nor is it primarily just a place for technophiles. Its global reach is growing every year as more countries gain capability and access. There are over two billion people online; 845 million of those people have Facebook accounts. The Internet has a reach of over 60% in developed countries and is growing exponentially in countries like Asia, Latin America and Africa. Soon it will be able to reach anyone, anywhere.
These users, however, also have a choice of how they engage with the online world. For market research, it’s imperative to reach the hard-to-get groups that are sometimes required for focus groups or studies. Involving community members to join, return and share their lives with companies through online research creates valuable and useful insight because those online community members are choosing to engage and share relevant information that contributes to research that can be used to make decisions and compel companies forward.
One motivation for this type of online engagement is the feeling that participant is being heard by the research company. If the company cares, the participants will feel more obligated to trust them and give candid feedback that will truly make a difference. This feedback given by the interested participant or customer is helpful not only because it contributes to the objective of the researching party, but also because it has a chance to benefit the people being researched directly.
Any form of accepted truism about particular online communities aren’t exactly accurate for the purpose of market research. The truism that Millennials won’t stay engaged in one specific place for too long isn’t to be accepted as an actual truth. Communispace, a Boston research firm, found that a better way to understand these various groups is to “observe how particular groups behave in various kinds of settings.” They found that Millennials posted more and were more actively engaged on a consistent basis in communities that were designed specifically for people in their age group rather than other types of communities.
The usefulness of online communities and engagement in this new era of market research can’t be understated. Whether you want to find out what Pog fanatics think about your Super Bowl commercial or if they’d be interested in a new type of car loan you’re offering, the path is paved with nothing but the ‘net.
Focus groups made up of well-qualified respondents have the power to yield market research results that change or reinforce the way businesses interact with the consumer. Our research group facility, Observation Baltimore, can help you make the most of your market research. The research facility at Observation Baltimore is equipped with rooms designed to foster discussion between respondents, making the most of the support group format with expert moderation to glean deep insights. Those insights can be harnessed to propel our clients forward in the decision making process.
Some art, some science, Quirk’s Marketing Research