Research Methods

Activity Based Market Research

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Lina Kabarowski


Qualitative market research offers some of the richest insights when it comes to understanding your consumer. With different study methodologies varying in their strengths, weaknesses, and applications, the key is understanding which one to use in order to get the most actionable insights for your research goals.

But with so many options, how can you be sure you’re choosing the correct one? 

Currently surging in popularity is activity-based market research, such as online communities. Taking inspiration from the success of social networking websites, market research online communities (MROCs) are founded on a community platform custom designed for research purposes. The idea behind an MROC is to gather real-time insights using closed groups of community members. They participate in moderated discussions related to a given topic, interacting with each other via discussion boards, threads, and comments. This conversation helps identify consumers' concerns and whether products make them happy or not. Authentic conversations between consumers are observed and reported, providing the ultimate feedback on your research topic. 

Participants are recruited to the online community based on predetermined criteria. Since conducting research with a MROC is entirely virtual, a market research firm can often find participants who would otherwise not be able to join a panel due to various restraints. With sample sizes for a successful online community ranging from a few dozen to thousands of participants, communities are flexible depending on the goals of the specific project. A researcher sets the parameters and develops guides for all discussions and activities that the group will engage in. 

So, what makes an online community a better option than a traditional focus group?  
Community participants tend to be more active and engaged because they can respond on any device, anytime, anyplace. 
  • Asynchronous participation allows for more time to consider responses and flexibility to fit into busy lives as projects can run for several days or weeks.  
  • The social media-style interface feels familiar and inviting. 
  • Moderators can engage with community members one on one or with the group as a whole.
  • Engagement is monitored through the OC database and encouraged through emails and notifications sent directly to community members. 

Online community members could be asked to choose photos relating to their sentiments on a certain topic, allowing them to be more expressive or better portray an emotion. Displaying concept boards allows community members to comment specifically on areas they like or dislike. They can take part in polls or short surveys, upload videos, and comment on each other’s posts. The dialogue between members becomes quite fluid and reveals consumer motivations in a very organic manner. 

Market research online communities offer many advantages in a more convenient, flexible, and inexpensive way than traditional surveying or focus groups.

If you’re interested in setting up an online community for your research needs, reach out to us at  MDRG is a market research firm based in New Orleans, LA focused on unlocking the WHOLE MIND for deeper insights! 

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