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5 Things To Know Before Investing In An Online Customer Insights Community

The Market Research Online Community (MROC) used to be a niche and novel solution for early adopter consumer insights teams and customer-obsessed organizations.

Simply having one was a unique competitive advantage. Online customer insights communities are now a critical resource for the majority of the world’s leading brands and businesses.

These market research engines are often so embedded that organizations can’t imagine conducting business without them.

That being said, before you invest in a new insights community, there are 5 things you should keep in mind as you evaluate your options or benchmark the solution from your current insights community provider.


 1. Insights community market research is no longer just a qualitative tool.

The old value proposition of using online customer insights communities to simply listen to what your customers are talking about is just that: Old. Organic community listening has been replaced with more powerful tools. While insights communities still have standard and innovative qualitative applications, sizes should now be big enough to support large quantitative market research studies with advanced statistical testing. Designed the right way, online customer insights communities can even replace traditional omnibus-style market research.


2. Cost and quality aren’t correlated and vary wildly.

Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean its good. In fact, the opposite could be the case. Legacy online insights community providers are expensive – and are often hiding weak legacy technologies, outmoded skill sets, and antiquated processes. Explore your options before investing in a new partner or re-signing your new contract with an existing provider – you might be surprised by what you find.


3. Fancy technology is pointless unless your account team knows how to use it properly.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that technology is synonymous with success. Fast access to information (a major selling point for online insights communities) doesn’t matter if the quality of that information is lacking. That’s where your market research support team’s expertise comes in: planning research studies that will yield new and useful information, and connecting the dots to convert it into actionable results. A dedicated team should know your business, your objectives, and be trained on how to conduct proper research that inspires action.


4. Access to adjacent skill sets is an important value accelerator.

Market research is made more powerful when a strategist can craft an actionable story from it or when a creative can tell the story visually. Full-service insights community offerings are going in the direction of ‘full-service plus’ – where full-service provider teams are supported by extended team members with relevant skill sets beyond online insights community research, enhancing the value of the partnership. 



5. You probably need a full-service insights community solution unless you have A LOT of time to spend on DIY.

Managing online insights community logistics, drafting learning plans, brainstorming and crafting community activities, and analysis and reporting all take work. A LOT of work. DIY communities may seem like an efficient investment on the surface, but they can be incredibly taxing unless you are willing and able to do all of the above, all year long, at the pace your business demands. Online customer insights communities enable you to do high volumes of fast research for a variety of objectives– so your resources must be up to the challenge.

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About The Author: John Ferreira

John Ferreira is Finch Brands’ Chief Insights Officer. Prior to joining us, he spent a decade at Campbell Soup Company in a mix of consumer insights and brand management roles. John is an expert across the entire research stack, with passion for communities, new technologies/methodologies, and how to bring insights to life.

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