Qual and Agile in the Same Sentence?

Not as Far Fetched as It May Seem…

 

When you think of qualitative research, fast and agile are not typically words that come to the top of your mind. You either have to sacrifice deep and emotional insights for speed and “instant” collaboration or dedicate months to get the quality insights of real collaborative research with your target audience. You’ve probably thought, there is absolutely no way to marry the two to have speed and the rich emotional insights your brand needs to future proof your business…but there is! The answer: market research online communities.

With MROCs, or what we at ENGINE call Always On Digital Hives, you can have anywhere from 500 to 5,000 or more of your targeted consumers pre segmented, ready and waiting to participate in your research. Skip the long, repetitive and redundant recruitment process by having this audience engaged anywhere from 6 months to a year or longer. Long gone are the days of traveling from city to city to host focus group after focus group with dismal show rates – especially in a time when travel is limited! With online communities, you can sit back and relax in your home office while the virtual focus groups are taking place with consumers in their own homes, and once they are over, you can get right back to your workday or debrief with your team. Not to mention all the time that will be saved not planning travel and accommodations or entering expenses – freeing your team’s time to focus on what they do best – research!

When was the last time you were going over the analysis from a research study and saw an emerging trend from a specific consumer segment that you wanted to dive a little deeper into? If you are like a lot of researchers, you most likely shelved it for later with every intention of bringing it back and revisiting, but how many times have you actually gone back and explored that topic more? Due to timing and budget constraints, and the overall hassle of creating another full-blown research project to explore a topic that may or may not result into anything important, most likely never! With the agility of an online community, it is no longer a hassle to follow up on a possible new and emerging trend. In fact, it can be done almost instantly! Since that same audience is with you for the duration of the community, you have 24-7 continuous access to them, their ideas and their insights. Simply choose a few consumers from that spotted trend and bring them into a quick hour-long online chatroom and probe away or take them through a short qualitative activity to explore that topic a bit more. If it doesn’t amount to what you thought it might, you only dedicated an hour or so to it. If though, it does prove to be something worth exploring, you may have just discovered a new path to future proofing your business.

In the rapidly changing year that is 2020, looking forward to 2021 is going to prove ever so important. Many companies are facing tighter budgets and are having to do more with less. If planned correctly, online communities make your smaller budget work harder for you.  Because you have so much flexibility with what can be done in an online community – whether it’s deep and emotional qualitative work, or quick overnight feedback – it can streamline your budgets and provide benefits for more than just your insights and research teams to combine forces with your marketing and brand management as well. Spring up a segment to explore possible tension points in a new customer journey, and similarly, leverage your marketing team to test different ad communications or imagery. Brand managers and marketers no longer have to live in fear of their new ad flopping – get your different options in front of the targeted audience and have them interact and co-create directly with you instantly! Take that feedback and go to print knowing you won’t have a new viral ad for all the WRONG reasons. Online communities can take your budget and maximise it to the fullest extent possible across multiple teams.

Even if this year has limited your insights or marketing budgets, you do not have to limit your teams. Fast and flexible consumer connection can be right at your fingertips like never before. And it has never been more important given that everything we once knew has completely changed for the foreseeable future. ENGINE Always On Digital Hives give you the constant connection with your consumers so you don’t have to worry about the future of your business.

 

Written by Patricia Lister, Manager at ENGINE Insights.