Online access panels, natural communities and online research communities – what, when and why?!?


Online, Social Media Monitoring, Research Communities … It has been a long time ago since market research was affected by that huge amount and speed of change. Not only in order to marketing their own services, but also to face the challenges new words, phrases, tools, brands and so on have been established.

No wonder that confusion sometimes is still quite large.

One approach that became a popular representative of new methods in a short time is the approach of online research communities, also known as Market Research Online Community (MROC).

There are different definitions of Online Research Communities, but they all have a common base: „An Online Research Community is a platform that is used exclusively to generate a deep understanding of needs, attitudes and the reality of life of specific target groups.“

So we don’t talk about access panels with a focus on quantitative research and we don’t talk about natural communities full of customers‘ conversation, like brand communities, Facebook pages or topic related community sites.

But of course these sources can help us finding and recruiting the right participants for an appropriate Online Research Community.

But we have to make sure to keep advantages and disadvantages in mind:
For example people from Online Access Panels are used to the internet, but they are probably not used to community tools and have a lack of willingness to participate over a longer period of time.

On the other hand people from a natural community like a branded site or a Facebook page have rich experience with a specific topic as well as with the community tools but maybe they don’t want to participate in market research. And sometimes, especially if you are not the owner of the natural community, it might be difficult to talk to the community members.

We will learn more about research communities at The Market Research Event 2011 in November. If you look at the program you will see that IIR USA has planned a whole track for this topic. It will be interesting to follow the „Social Media & Communities“ track on Monday.


Über den Autor

Marktforschung mit Leidenschaft mit jeder Menge Erfahrung wie Research für Marketing, Strategie und R&D nutzbar gemacht wird

5 Kommentare

  1. Martina Mari am

    once again thank you christian, i really appreciate your writing. unfortunately i cannot participate at the conference. so i am and will be happy about your entries. greetings from milano. martina

  2. Arturo Romero am

    Hi Christian!
    What do you think about data security and these online research communities? I am working in Europe, so is it ok to use an american software provider? How can i explain to my clients that data security is good for them? I cannot find any information (i mean blogs, magazines…) about qualitative online research and data security. Why nobody is thinking about it? Do you care? Thanks!

  3. Hi Arturo,
    sorry for not coming back earlier…
    Data security is a major issue, but most of the software vendors are reliable. You can of course chose and make sure, that this is a „closed“ community (with login and password). From the technical perspective it is as safe as the interent could be.

    From a contextual point of view it is tricky, if the objectives deal with new product development. Co-Creation is sometimes difficult, because clients have fear that secrets or competitive advantages will be revealed by the participants (even if you ban them from doing so).

    All in all, it is online, and it is in the internet so you can’t provide 100% security..

    But why not chosing an European software provider? Maybe one from a country with strong data protection laws (like Germany) ?

  4. thank you for answering! absolutely right – there is no 100% security. but also offline-groups can have a security-problem…. in the meantime i learned that it gives a lot of trouble to work with an american software-provider. because the american state can look at the data at any time! so now we are looking for a european (or german) provider… fits better to our standards.