The online insights community landscape is rapidly changing

Market Research Online Communities (MROC), also known as online insights communities, used to be a niche and novel solution for early adopter market research teams and customer-obsessed organizations. Simply having one was a unique competitive advantage. Insights communities are now a critical resource for the majority of the world’s leading brands and businesses. They are often so embedded that organizations can’t imagine conducting business without them. In recent years there have been several major shifts across the landscape involving what communities are used for and why they’re so important.

From Insights Department Experiment to Essential Business Decision Tool

The Rise of Insights Engines: Unlocking the Value of Big Data

One of the biggest trends driving increased value from insights communities is their companion role to big data platforms. In the past few years, a select number of leading firms have set the pace in the creation of “Insights Engines” that bring light to the “why” behind the mountain of “what” that big data sources provide. This gets the entire market research industry closer to the holy grail of combining clean behavioral data with conscious responses to understand what truly makes people tick. Because those databases, are already on hand, and insights communities are so agile, this 1-2 punch combines to create a step change in both the speed and quality of customer insights initiatives.

A New Bridge Between Qual and Quant

When insights communities were new on the scene they were largely limited to qualitative applications with small samples sizes. Rarely would an insights community hold more than a few hundred respondents. Today, progressive providers are removing this constraint with advanced technology platforms that allow companies to speak to thousands of target customers. This opens the door to making statistically significant quantitative comparisons in surveys, while increasing the quality of qualitative research because you have a broader array of respondents (and even respondent sub-segments) to choose from. Working together, the best customer insights community providers allow you to quickly recruit respondent customers from large sample quantitative studies into qualitative activities such as video chats and streaming focus groups that uncover the “why” behind quantitative observations.

Unlocking the Voice of the Employee

Another key trend in recent years is the application of online insights communities internally, either for internal insights generation or to track and improve employee engagement. By setting up internal  communities, companies can canvas the knowledge and expertise of their own employees with insights community tools to create competitive advantage or strengthen their culture.

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