Research Communities and Market Research Rules

One of the questions I get asked quite often is whether or not research communities, such as MROCs and Community Panels, are possible inside the rules of market research? The answer is caveated, it depends on which community and which country’s research rules. In the post below I will set out my layman’s (i.e. it could be wrong) view of where communities sit in terms of the rules. Why communities might NOT be market research? There are three main areas of concern: Many communities use client based incentives, e.g. shop vouchers, air miles, telephone minutes etc. This tends to be against societies’ guidelines as they (and some legislators) feel that this is either distorting the market or a form of sales promotion. Brands are keen to use these sorts of incentives because community members tend to prefer them and they increase the bonding of the community members and the community. If the community is intensive, for example a long term, qualitative/ideation community, the community members tend to become advocates for the brand. The view of societies’ tends to be that this is market distorting and can be seen as a form of marketing. Brands are keen on this element of […]

How to run a successful MROC in Japan?

Click here to read in Japanese – 日本語 Yesterday in Tokyo I attended two events (one run by the JMA and one by JMRX – sponsored by GMO Research) and a client meeting, and one specific question arose at all three. The background to the question lies in Japan’s experience with MROCs (in particularly short-term, qualitative research communities). Although some companies have been very successful, several others have not, and some clients are beginning to be worried about MROCs. So, the question I was asked three times was “How do you create a good MROC in Japan?” By the time I had spoken to three audiences I had refined my answer down to three clear points: Good recruitment. A short-term, qualitative MROC (e.g. one month, 60 people) needs to be based on the right people. These people need to be informed about what they will be expected to do, they need to understand how to access the MROC, they need to be engaged with the topic (they might love the topic, hate the topic, be curious about the topic, have recently started using it, or perhaps have given it as a gift – but they need to be engaged). Good […]

Is the term MROC morphing?

When Brad Bortner, of Forrester, coined the term MROC (Market Research Online Community) in 2009, he defined it as a qualitative tool. This definition has been used widely to define qualitative communities, in contrast to online access panels (large, quant, and minimal community), and in contrast to community panels (large, qual and quant, with community). However, the difference between access panels, community panels, and MROCs may soon be a redundant distinction. One of the reasons that things are changing is that the platforms for conducting research via communities are changing. In the early days of using communities for research, there were essentially two types of platforms, discussion-based systems and panel based systems. Discussion-based systems, such as forums and bulletin-boards, tended to have good discussion tools, but they had few survey options and few community management tools. This made them ideal for small communities, e.g. 30 to 300, where the overhead of looking after queries, incentives, sampling etc were very simple. Companies that opted for this type of platform tended to stay with a qualitative type of research, making the term MROC, synonymous with both the type of research and the type of software used. Panel-based systems, such as community panels, […]