online communities

Online Communities: “Category Destroyer” or “Third Way”

Two blog posts have discussed the long-term affect of online communities

In “The Future Place Blog” ( Ray Poynter discusses the “New Market Research” where large scale communities create a new paradigm where researchers interact with large groups of participants/customers so that they have ongoing, longitudinal research that delivers both quantitative and qualitative information.  He terms this as a “category destroyer” that destroys proactive market research as we know it in favor of more interactive understsanding of consumers.  An exerpt from his blog post:

This new paradigm for research, immersed in people’s lives, is what I am referring to as New MR. The leading examples of this New MR, at the moment, come from online research communities. These communities bring marketers, customers, and researchers together in an ongoing conversation.

Head of Synovate, Adrian Chedore, has described communities as the fastest growing aspect of market research, and the reason for his deal with Vision Critical. However, unlike online data collection, online communities are a true category destroyer. Communities compete for quantitative research budgets, but deliver qualitative research benefits. Communities transform the researcher from the ‘hidden observer’ to an active participant, co-creating value with both the brand and the customers.

Drawing on Poynter’s discussion, Emiel Van Wegan ( argues that communities will not “destroy” current market research methods but will present a “Third Way” that is faster, deeper and a greater value. 

Van Wegan believes that middle size communities will deliver the value that will make them the “Third Way.”  Here is an exerpt from his blog post:

It’s a bit like Bill Clinton’s centrism (a.k.a. the “third way“) advocating a mix of some left-wing and right-wing policies. This third method of market research may help us overcome the fears of the more traditional orientated researchers – both the qual and quant teams who are afraid it may cannibalise their research. It will be another method of market research, leveraging the strengths of both methods combined with the benefits of the available technology.

A handful of ideas for online communities in ’09 is a blog on using online communities.  This article highlights 5 research ideas for online communities.  I’ve included the bullets here.  For the full article click on the headline below to link to the full article.


Five ways to use an online research community in 2009

It’s almost Christmas, and for  the penultimate in our Five things to do in 2009 series, I wanted to focus on one specific use brands can make of social media: online research communities. Of the communities we build and manage at FreshNetworks, many are specifically built for research. Even those that are not usually end up offering valuable insight into what consumers think. This insight is something every brand can benefit from, so today here are Five ways to use an online research community in 2009.

1. Get customers involved in your business

2. Innovate with your customers

3. Find out how your customers interact

4. Learn the language your customers use

5. Find answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask


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