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MROC pioneer Columinate sees significant growth

Columinate pioneered the use of Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) in South Africa back in 2008. Formally, MROCs (also known as Online Communities or Insight Communities) are defined as private online sites where hundreds of pre-profiled consumers are invited to participate in research activities, hold discussions, blog, and share ideas and experiences, while a trained qualitative researcher systematically moderates and analyses the feedback. These communities typically last for two weeks or longer. Informally, these communities are also known as a 'research buffet' or 'focus group on steroids', as they offer such a rich experience for the researcher, client and participants.
Since 2008, Columinate has conducted countless MROCs for clients and has scooped up two SAMRA best paper awards based on the methodology. Columinate holds the record for the longest-running bespoke MROC, for creating an employee community for a large corporate that ran for 16 months and had more than 1,000 members. The company is a preferred partner for international clients and has assisted both BrainJuicer and Insites Consulting with multinational online communities.

In 2014, six years later, Columinate offers an even better moulded MROC service with immense success. The company has seen a significant increase in the demand for this methodology and for online research in general. Since the company's inception, its turnover has grown by more than 700%, with a significant increase in the number of clients who are turning to online research. The demand for MROCs has also increased significantly, with MROCs' share of the annual turnover increasing by 10% from the previous year.

Columinate has seen a wider application of MROCs, with the diversity of clients requesting the methodology increasing. MROC research users now come from various industries, including long-term insurance, banking, short-term insurance, broadcasting, pharmaceutical, consumer health, FMCG, automotive, e-commerce and travel, to name a few. The applications have diversified, with the most popular being new concept testing and refining client value propositions. But it is also increasingly being used to test ads and campaigns, pack testing, brand health, copy testing, netnography, customer experience, co-creation, and general usage and attitudes studies.

The methodology is growing in popularity because it serves the ever-changing needs of research users. Fast, cost-effective and insightful results are what clients demand - and there is no reason they should not get it. MROCs offer clients the ability to cover many different topics in depth, without sacrificing time or cost to get the insights. The added bonuses of viewing the process live, being able to include additional questions at a moment's notice, and not needing to travel to view behind-the-mirror focus groups, all add to the list of benefits this methodology offers.

MROCs go mobile

The methodology itself offers unique features and benefits. This, coupled with the qualitative research expertise to motivate consumers to share and answer clients' objectives, is what sets Columinate apart. The company prides itself on providing qualitative research that is logically and creatively presented, visually appealing and, above all, insightful. Columinate has evolved the methodology to ensure it stays up to date with technological advances and clients' needs. MROCs are now accessible from tablets and cellphones, either via an app or a mobi-site. This feature allows on-the-go feedback from consumers, as they can upload pictures and convey what they are experiencing while they are in the moment.

Addressing the need for on-demand qual

In terms of client demands, the 'need for speed' has never been greater and this applies to qualitative research too. MROCs satisfy this need by giving clients immediate and transparent access to the research, but Columinate has also made some significant alterations to its MROC offering to satisfy this need. MROCs that last for two weeks allow the client to get 12 focus groups' worth of data within one month or less, and for those who are even more pressed for time and have very specific topics, one-week or three-day MROCs are ideal.

Columinate recently started offering a three-day MROC which satisfies the need for on-demand qual. The three-day MROCs provide in-depth information on select topics and the rich information gathered can equal three focus groups - within a fraction of the time and at one third of the cost.

Elna Smit, marketing director of Columinate, comments: "We are seeing a significant increase in the demand for MROCs. The unique features and benefits of the methodology, along with our expert team of qualitative researchers, ensure that clients who have trialled the method always come back for more. We are very proud of our qualitative department, as we have excellent qualitative researchers who work hard to understand our clients' needs and have the skill to motivate participants to share their experiences candidly. We also invest heavily in researching our research, to ensure that we always provide the optimal and best-in-class service to clients. I'm of the opinion that if your target market can be reached online, there is absolutely no reason why you should consider any methodology other than an MROC."

For more information on MROCs or to obtain an obligation-free quote, contact Columinate at (011) 782 7246 | or visit

20 May 2014 11:33



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