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Research in a recession: Cheaper, faster and newer types of insights are here

The economic downturn is a reality that all industries are facing, a reality that has forced us to rethink the way in which we purchase and consume everything, including research. These challenging economic times call for research that is cost-effective while still meeting the needs of the client in terms of speed, quality and value of insight. Columinate has the solution: Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) - a new and innovative method that will forever change the way in which qualitative research is done.
What is an MROC? Not just thinking out of the box, but throwing the box away!

Research in a recession: Cheaper, faster and newer types of insights are here
The participatory web offers new ways of engaging participants and delivering insight. Online research communities form the most notable example of the Web 2.0 infiltration into research. Think beyond online surveys, think beyond online focus groups and throw the traditional box away…

The formal definition sees Market Research Online Communities as targeted groups of people, brought together in an online setting to participate in research activities for an extended period of time. These people are joined together by a common interest, characteristic or disposition towards a brand and interact with one another whilst qualitative, ethnographic and even quantitative data is systematically gathered. These communities can vary in size from around 50 to 1000's of members, and both public and private communities can be used for research. The flexibility of the approach means that both short and long term objectives can be met.

This method utilises a platform similar to a social network, so aside from the research topics initiated by the researchers, members are free to post photos and videos, blog or start new discussions. This allows for deeper insights into the world of the consumer and also enables consumers to venture into areas unexplored by the researcher and client. It also means that participants have a lot more fun in the process.

Benefits of the Method:

A Forrester research report (2008) that interviewed 31 vendors and users of the approach concluded that:

“Market research online communities (MROCs) will shock the qualitative market research world. They provide cheaper, faster, and newer types of insights that today's traditional qualitative research modes, such as focus groups, don't currently provide.“


The method shares many of the advantages of online research and also has a variety of additional benefits including:

  • Fast, real time feedback: Once the community is set up it means it is available as a resource 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Stretching research budgets: MROCs afford a fixed “eat as much as you can” costing model in contrast to variable research project costs. This means a fixed investment for the duration of the community's lifecycle resulting in savings over numerous ad-hoc research projects.

  • Size matters: These communities are often called a “focus group on steroids” which points to one of the biggest advantages of MROCs over traditional (and even online) focus groups. MROCs have hundreds of members while focus groups generally have between eight and 12.

  • Studying social dynamics: Member interaction means that any brand can now also understand how individuals in its audience communicate and interact with one another as well as the brand.

  • Direct client access: If appropriate, clients can have direct access to the communities allowing members to interact directly with the brand. Alternatively clients can have full “observer” status.

In summary, the method is extremely affordable with the value of the insights being unmatched by other qualitative methods. The method can be applied to an array of research objectives including customer satisfaction, concept testing, creative idea generation/brainstorming, employee research (climate and culture), website development, communications development and brand engagement to name but a few. The method is highly customisable - from the branding of the platform to the level of access afforded to certain groups of members.

Online community research: The Columinate Offering

Columinate prides itself on being specialists in the area of Web 2.0 Research and more specifically MROCs. We have implemented this method successfully in different settings and are well equipped to ensure optimal participation and respondent engagement.

Our highly sophisticated community platform has an array of research and client features that can be fully tailored to the client's needs. Some of these features include direct access to survey results, transcript downloads and full observer functionalities. Our MROC offering is a fully managed research service, from developing the platform, sending out e-mail invitations and moderation, right through to the analysis, reporting and presentation of the results. All surveys and discussions are included within the fixed monthly fee, making the method extremely affordable.

Contact Columinate ( or ) to request a demonstration of the platform and presentation, or for more information visit our website at www.columinate.com/services.php for a detailed brochure and white paper on the method.

16 Apr 2009 12:51

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The largest sample size for a single client project…We know!

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