Several years ago I talked to some consumer research companies like Synovate and GfK regarding the impact of social media on the way they conduct surveys, work with panels, etc.
I’m going to post about some cases later. There are some research firms out there doing great stuff with Twitter, collaboration tools, social media, etc. And Forrester Research has been talking about Market Research online communities or MROCs since ages (time I update my reading on this, since I haven’t followed it for two years now).
Anyway, in this post I’ll talk about the way research companies are using, well, let’s call it Web 2.0.
Web 2.0, although I don’t hear the term as often anymore, is still a term that includes a variety of new online technologies that provide a software-like experience to Internet users, online applications such as social networking platforms, blogs and much more.
However, in the first place it’s an evolution whereby people, and thus customers, get a voice through these applications.
An ideal solution for research companies it seems. And indeed it is. Some research companies I talked to amazingly don’t use it all. Many companies that use Web 2.0 only use it in a limited way.
They only take advantage of a limited amount of tools and platforms such as blogs and social networks. More recent Web 2.0 applications are used less. This is normal: the first Web 2.0 applications are the most adopted by companies.
Research 2.0 is about conversation, co-creation and participant-centricity
Forrester Research did a survey quite a while ago titled “Will Web 2.0 Transform Market Research?”. The company concluded that it will but that the high costs will make it happen mainly in large companies. Forrester Research also announced the rise of ‘Market Research online communities’ (MROCs). But, as I discovered, market research 2.0 is more than that.
It gives a more central place to the participants than to the researchers, and thus it is more about a personal conversation. Furthermore, the conversations and interactions between the participants are often observed and analyzed.
It’s also an evolution in which online media and technologies play and will play an increasing role. Think about co-creation, user-generated brainstorm sessions and applications such as widgets that can be implemented across social networks and blogs.
The networking phenomenon plays a big role in market research 2.0 too: creating conversations between participants and panels on one hand and companies, on the other hand, but also following conversations between participants themselves. And finally monitoring social networking tools and blogs.
Cross-channel social research
When talking to some research companies, I heard great examples, of how they use Web 2.0 in consumer research. They were often cross-channel (as they should) and based on scenarios that used a variety of media and tools, including SMS, chats, webcams and so on. So it seems the possibilities are endless.
Will market research 2.0 replace the traditional approach? According to most industry experts, I spoke with not: focus groups and panels are still key. However, online and social networks become increasingly important, as well in the collection of data, the interaction with the participant as the way the research is set up: cross-channel and scenario-based.
Most experts also see market research 2.0 as complementary and especially fit for some target groups such as younger consumers.
Conclusion? It’s about getting the right mix, getting social and being participant-centric. Or about getting more personal.
And…understanding the tools and being inventive to create the best scenarios for the target groups and purpose of the research.
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