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written by Manila Austin, Ph.D., Director of Research

Julie Wittes Schlack, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Design

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Leaving Our Comfort Zone: 21st Century Market Research | 3

executivesummaryAdvances in social media, the empowerment of everyday consumers, and the need for more actionable insights fuel a mandate for market research to do more, faster. These developments create great opportunity for researchers to exercise strategic leadership, to inspire and innovate by bringing the voice of the customer to life, to apply new insights to complex business problems, and to produce creative, timely and actionable recommendations to drive business results.

But the use of social media-driven research also fuels the quality debate that’s been raging for years, creating worries about declining response rates, questionable respondents, sample size, and projectability. Market researchers need to consider and address these legitimate concerns, while also recognizing the ways in which online, social, community-based research can actually strengthen validity and enhance quality.

To take that leap, it’s helpful to think in terms of tradeoffs, to understand what researchers are risking—and gaining—by shifting their focus and methods.

The choice facing the industry need not be to invest blind faith in old, authoritarian research techniques or in uppity, untested new ones. This paper sets out to collaboratively build a foundation for a 21st Century understanding of market research—what it can accomplish and how. We seek to pose some provocative questions, offer some initial thinking, and engage the industry as a whole in an ongoing conversation about how to embrace the blurred boundaries between marketing and market research, and activate the ability to quickly garner and act on customer insight.

A New Model for A New Age

The emergence of social media challenges us to recognize and figure out how to intelligently embrace a new way of doing research— one that is sure to generate insight, to both inspire and inform, and to provide strategic value. We see an integrative paradigm emerging—a 21st Century model—in which research is:

• Conducted in real time, so that it’s relevant and actionable

• Participatory and engaging, which means adopting humanistic and consumer-centric methods

• Textured and nuanced, with the potential of getting rich detail on a really large scale

• Continually evolving to meet new marketplace demands from consumers, clients, and competition

• More dynamic, where we will rethink and re-invent to drive innovation on an ongoing basis

Taken together, these criteria feel pretty different from the somewhat dry language many of us grew up with. The online era challenges many of our assumptions about data quality—validity, projectability, bias—and it represents a significant change in how we think and go about our work. As an industry—and to varying degrees as individuals—we are being nudged, or shoved, out of our comfort zone.


Purity for Pragmatism

Anonymity for Transparency

General for Specific

Distance for Relationship

Control for Collaboration

Artificial for Natural

Randomness for Purpose

Looking Backward for Looking Forward


Pragmatic = Actionable

Transparency = Engagement

Specific = Relevant

Relationship = Candor

Collaboration = Creativity

Natural = Authentic

Purpose = Productivity

Looking Forward = The Future

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the New roads to Quality reQuire challeNgiNg old assumptioNs aNd makiNg iNformed trade-offs.

QuAlIty IS An uRgent ISSue but theRe’S A MoRe IMPoRtAnt ISSue to Do WIth WhAt neeDS to be Done goIng foRWARD, becAuSe the InDuStRy ISn’t keePIng PAce WIth the chAnge goIng on ARounD uS. PeoPle ARe too focuSeD on QuAlIty, PeoPle ARe too focuSeD on PRobAbIlIty AnD non-PRobAbIlIty SAMPleS, PeoPle ARe too focuSeD on ReSPonDent engAgeMent—thIS IS All About MAkIng MInoR chAngeS to WhAt We ARe DoIng RIght noW. thoSe ARe All neceSSARy, but they’Re not SuffIcIent conDItIonS foR the SucceSS of the functIon. “(COCA-COLA’S) STAN STHANUNATHAN ON WHY QUALITY DOESN’T MATTER,” RESEARCH., 22 OCTOBER 2009

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pragmatic = actioNable

My cAll to ActIon IS thAt We WoulD fIguRe out the WAy to RetuRn to the conSuMeR’S bAckyARD…We hAVe to RebuIlD thAt tRuSt AnD We hAVe to gAIn Much betteR InSIghtS thAn We ARe toDAy…We neeD to lISten to theM on theIR tIMe, theIR tuRf, AnD In the WAyS they WAnt to coMMunIcAte to uS, not In WAyS thAt We chooSe to coMMunIcAte WIth theM. AnD We neeD to Re-eStAblISh the tRuSt AnD the confIDence thAt they DeSeRVe to hAVe In uS… KIM DEDEKER, ARF LEADERSHIp FORUM 2008

It is time to decouple the notion of “quality” from purity. Today, it is more important for research to be actionable than irrefutable. This means shifting our focus—aiming not for the perfect, bias-free study, but for an approach that pragmatically applies a range of methods to generate and test hypotheses. Integrating elements of both humanistic and experimental approaches allows us to produce timely, “good enough” research targeted to specific business needs. Rather than itemizing the statistical significance of individual data points, we need to focus on synthesizing findings that are relevant, insightful, and actionable.

We have learned that a longitudinal, iterative approach—one that combines humanistic, person-centered approaches with more traditional, experimentally derived ones—is most effective.

Humanistic methods (such as ethnographic-type activities that treat participants as active co-investigators, as opposed to simply passive survey respondents) are consumer-centric, reflecting how real people want to engage with researchers. They are discovery-oriented and exploratory, most suitable for uncovering connections, insights, and nuances that lead to innovation and competitive advantage. And iterative, as opposed to episodic research, supports researchers and participants in an ongoing discovery process that allows everyone to ask new questions as they uncover and reflect upon what they learn.

Top-down, researcher-centric approaches are best for generating feedback, for confirming what is already known or suspected. By design, they do not expand a problem space nor do they generate knowledge outside of the researcher’s frame of reference. They also run the risk of alienating the very people—everyday consumers—to whom companies desperately need to listen. Are there circumstances under which you want and need to hear from the population of less-engaged, more neutral customers? Of course, but they are not and should not be the only game in town.

We believe that there clearly is a place for both kinds of knowledge— exploratory and confirmatory. But while researcher-centric approaches are necessary for some purposes, numbers don’t tell the whole story, or even close to it. By grounding knowledge generation in the humanistic tradition, we ensure that we are focusing on the consumers’ world view and framework, not just the brands’. And combining elements of both traditions in an iterative, agile, and pragmatic way allows researchers to move between exploring and testing, generating and confirming to produce the most actionable information in support of specific business needs.

Delivers: Insight and Meaning


Delivers:confirmation and numbers




hypothesis generation


hypothesis testing

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Market researchers have been concerned with the quality of online data collection since the dawn of the Internet, largely due to fears that online consumers fail to accurately represent the general population. These concerns, however, are becoming increasingly irrelevant for two main reasons. First, more people are accessing the Internet, making distinctions between online and offline groups less meaningful. Second, if relevancy of insight is an important quality factor (which we believe it is), then researchers have more to gain by listening to the “right” group of people than they do by trying to generalize findings to a generic population.

There is plenty of evidence showing that, except for a few discrete segments, the Internet population in the U.S. is quickly becoming the general population. Many European countries’ Internet penetration is higher than what we have in the U.S., and projections for developing markets (with the advent of smartphones) indicate that soon, two billion people will be online.1 Online versus offline is quickly becoming a non-issue.

More importantly, quality research must produce relevant findings; and we have learned that listening to targeted, specific groups of customers is the surest road to relevancy.

If you want to deepen customer loyalty, who better to engage than members of your brand’s loyalty program? If your goal is to broaden your brand’s appeal, then hearing from fans of your competitors’ brands may be the most useful approach.

Researchers can be more confident in taking action when they trust they have the right people assembled to address their specific objectives. We advise our clients that whether or not they generalize from communities depends on the community composition and on the particular question they’re trying to answer. Many questions—like the ones featured in the United Airlines example shown here—can be explored and findings effectively generalized when the community is specific and the target market is defined enough.

1. www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

specific = relevaNt

oN REPRESENTATIVE SAmPLES We RecRuIteD A coMMunIty of ouR MoSt VAluAble cuStoMeRS—A RelAtIVely SMAll PoPulAtIon— fRoM ouR cuStoMeR lISt. becAuSe the coMMunIty AccuRAtely ReflectS My PoPulAtIon of InteReSt, AnD becAuSe the PuRPoSe of the coMMunIty IS to unDeRStAnD ouR MoSt loyAl cuStoMeRS, I belIeVe the ReSultS of My coMMunIty’S ReSeARch ARe ReflectIVe of the lARgeR tARget PoPulAtIon. So eVen though It’S not A tRADItIonAl PAnel, I’M coMfoRtAble uSIng the coMMunIty MoRe QuAntItAtIVely. DAN COMENDULEY, pROjECT MANAgER, CUSTOMER METRICS & INSIgHTS, UNITED AIRLINES

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Natural = autheNtic

Trading artificial approaches for more naturalistic (private, online, at-home) research settings can strengthen validity and data quality, especially when researchers are asking people to reveal intimate aspects of their lives.

We have found that the freedom and relative safety of private online communities allow for the iterative exploration of the most intimate content. We have seen that in naturalistic settings, regular people openly share detailed information about their financial situations, experiences with serious illnesses, stresses and hopes, relationship worries, and even embarrassing quirks and habits.

Another benefit of naturalistic settings is that they not only provide more authentic contexts for engagement and discovery, but they strengthen researchers’ ability to generalize findings. Participating in focus groups and anonymous surveys requires people to step out of their daily lives; thus findings generated from these approaches do not always translate to real-life situations. And with so much public distrust in how companies use electronic information (e.g., identity theft, subversive marketing, etc.), people are less likely to be truly open and forthcoming if they don’t know or cannot trust the researcher. But a willingness on the part of researchers to model the kind of self-disclosure that we hope to elicit from our participants, coupled with the kind of ongoing connection enabled by social media, make it possible to build a trusting relationship between researcher and “subjects” over time.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked ways to enhance quality is leveraging the power of a naturalistic research setting. Natural settings promote authentic participation because the researcher engages people on their own terms, refraining from barging into people’s lives or extracting them from their homes to answer questions they had no say in generating. One benefit of online research—and private communities in particular—is that it allows people to participate on their own time, on their own terms, and from their own homes or smartphones. They are able to use social technologies to bring their own lives to the researcher.

oN INTImACyWe foRMeD A coMMunIty of neWly DIAgnoSeD cAnceR PAtIentS AnD PRIMARy cARegIVeRS Who PARtIcIPAteD no MAtteR WheRe they lIVeD, WhAteVeR houR of the DAy AnD RegARDleSS of theIR conDItIon. In contRASt to tyPIcAl MARket ReSeARch, the RIcheSt ‘AhA’S’ cAMe When the PAtIentS AnD cARegIVeRS InItIAteD theIR oWn DIScuSSIonS, AnD We hAD the oPPoRtunIty to ReAlly JuSt lISten—obSeRVIng hoW the MeMbeRS SuPPoRteD eAch otheR AnD leARnIng fRoM the StoRIeS they ShAReD. We WeRe A fly on the WAll In the tReAtMent RooM, WhIch foR heAlthcARe MARketeRS IS VeRy unuSuAl. ALANA BRODY, FORMER SVp STRATEgIC DEVELOpMENT, NATIONAL COMpREHENSIVE CANCER NETWORK (NCCN)

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oN ANoNymITyWe founD thAt In An unbRAnDeD coMMunIty We WeRe contInuAlly chAllengeD WIth tAlkIng DIRectly to ouR MeMbeRS WIthout ReVeAlIng ouR IDentIty, AnD thuS beIng foRceD to fInD ‘cReAtIVe’ WAyS to ASk QueStIonS AnD conDuct ‘Decoy’ ReSeARch. ouR ReAl obJectIVe WAS to hAVe A DIRect DIAlogue WIth ouR conSuMeRS AnD gAIn VAluAble InSIghtS Into theIR neeDS AS ShoPPeRS. When We DID MoVe foRWARD AnD unVeIl ouR IDentIty, becoMIng A bRAnDeD coMMunIty, We founD MeMbeR engAgeMent IncReASeD AnD conVeRSAtIonS becoMe Much MoRe ReleVAnt AnD VAluAble to both PARtIeS.MICHELLE LASLO, SENIOR MANAgER, CUSTOMER STRATEgY AND INSIgHTS, pEpSICO

traNspareNcy = eNgagemeNt

One way to get quality information is to trade anonymity for a transparent, open approach. Researchers are often concerned that findings will not be valid if participants speak freely with one another, know who the sponsoring company is, or are active co-participants in the research process. Our experience and our five-year program of research-on-research suggest this is actually not true. We have found that when companies trade in anonymity, they gain better engagement, more textured insights, and increased value overall.

First, transparency in research is just simply more engaging for people. When companies are upfront in disclosing their identity, when they invite people into the fold, and when they demonstrate that they are truly listening, people respond in kind. The research we have done on community member participation clearly shows that branded communities outperform unbranded ones.2 And our research on corporate listening shows that community members value feeling that their voice is heard and that their contributions are making a difference.3 Engagement is critical for quality; when people are engaged they try harder, they do and share more, and go to great lengths for companies when they know who they are talking to.

Second, companies undermine the ROI of research when they fail to be transparent. Participation is lower, researchers must concoct and field “dummy” research to disguise their identity (which waters down the learning agenda and wastes time), and members’ energy is often diverted into guessing games that are not valuable for the client.

And last, many of our clients have conducted parallel studies comparing results from communities with those generated from blinded approaches (e.g., panel surveys, focus groups, etc.) We have collected over 25 examples across a range of clients, and the comparison results are consistent: findings from data collected through a transparent, community approach are directionally similar to those obtained by other methods.

2. Katrina Lerman and Manila Austin, The Fifth ‘P’ of Marketing: Participation (Communispace whitepaper, 2007)

3. Katrina Lerman and Manila Austin, What Companies Gain from Listening (Communispace whitepaper, 2006)

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relatioNship = caNdorIt may seem counter-intuitive, but quality can be heightened when researchers trade distance and objectivity for closeness and relationship. A common fear market researchers share is the possibility that the feedback from people participating in branded research communities will be tainted, inflated or somehow not trustworthy as a result of their ongoing involvement.

Our research shows that, if anything, members become more honest and forthright as their tenure increases. Over time, members do come to view company sponsors more positively, but this does not affect their ability to provide valuable—and critical—feedback.

For example, we have developed a method for coding open-ended responses for both “candor” and “richness” and have found that members continue to provide critiques and textured detail in their contributions, regardless of tenure.

We have also found that the relationship that develops between company sponsors and community members can actually increase clients’ confidence and trust in what they hear. Because communities are transparent, composed of the “right people” for the business objective, and because companies really know who they are hearing from, clients feel more comfortable acting on the advice of the research community.

oN CANDoRIn A PASt Job At A MAJoR fooD coMPAny, We hAD MeMbeRS ReAct to A neW PRoDuct concePt eARly In DeVeloPMent. InteRnAlly, We ReAlly loVeD the concePt We WeRe fIelDIng, AnD hAD hIgh hoPeS foR It. MeMbeRS ReSPonDeD QuIckly to the concePt teSt—WIthIn 72 houRS—AnD they hAteD It, totAlly ReJectIng the IDeA. but It WASn’t JuSt A gut ReSPonSe. becAuSe they felt they kneW uS, WeRe InVeSteD In uS, AnD DIDn’t WAnt to See uS ScReW uP, they AlSo PRoVIDeD uS WIth AMPle, VeRy cleAR feeDbAck on Why. ouR loyAl uSeRS SAW A fAtAl flAW In the PRoDuct thAt We hAD MISSeD In ouR oWn excIteMent. bASeD on theIR ReSPonSeS, We PulleD the PRoDuct IDeA WIthIn thRee WeekS, SAVIng the coMPAny coStS on fuRtheR DeVeloPMent. In thIS cASe ouR coMMunIty helPeD uS fAIl fASteR, AnD AlloWeD uS to feel gooD About the DecISIon becAuSe We kneW We coulD tRuSt thAt cRItIcAl feeDbAck. ADRIAN C. BINg-ZAREMBA, CONSUMER INSIgHTS AND MARKET INTELLIgENCE, BOEHRINgER INgELHEIM CONSUMER HEALTH CARE pRODUCTS

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purpose = productivity

We also need to re-evaluate our fear of the dreaded practice effect—the idea that repeated participation in research necessarily erodes quality. Recent research and our experience suggest just the opposite.

There is mounting evidence that practiced research participants—people who are motivated and engaged, and well-versed in how to best contribute—actually produce better results. A study released by the ARF’s Online Research Quality Council actually found that increasing panel membership lowered “bad” survey taking behavior (such as straight-lining or speeding).4 “Professional” respondents, then, do not necessarily threaten—and may actually improve—quality.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but we have also found that experience participating in research—especially when the purpose is transparent—produces better results. Members are motivated, proficient, and simply more productive.

This is certainly the case with new product development communities, but it is also true for insight communities. Our participation research also shows no relationship between greater monetary incentives and increased participation.5 Intrinsic motivation drives engagement. There is something inherently energizing about a shared purpose and goal-directed activity; when research participants know why they are being asked to make electronic collages, take videos of a family dinner, or brainstorm ideas, they are motivated to do a better job.

Concern about professional respondents has been acute in recent years, but it is time to realize that quality requires trading in the myth of the “fresh,” unpracticed consumer, and focus instead on creating purposeful relationships with people to help them do a better job of what they are already doing anyway. The notion that there is a “random” population of people in the world that do not take surveys, answer marketers’ questions, post and read reviews, or engage with brands on a regular basis is wishful thinking in the 21st Century. Consumers today are extremely marketing savvy; and if there are untapped consumers out there, then they certainly aren’t representative of the general population.

oN PRACTICEI lIke PRobleM SolVIng, AnD thIS coMMunIty IS About PRobleM SolVIng, In teRMS of IDentIfyIng WhAt PeoPle neeD, WhAt they WAnt to See Done DIffeRently, AnD hoW you cAn Meet theIR exPectAtIonS. AfteR A feW MonthS, I gueSS the [IncentIVe] becAMe tIReSoMe AnD the conVeRSAtIon kInD of ADDIctIVe. I lIke MAny of the toPIcS AnD heARIng guyS’ thoughtS on theM, AS Well AS hAVIng the oPPoRtunIty to gIVe My oWn PeRSPectIVe. MEMBERS OF TWO COMMUNISpACE COMMUNITIES

4. Robert Walker, Raymond Pettit and Joel Rubinson, Foundations of Quality Knowledge Brief (The Advertising Research Foundation, 2009)

5. Katrina Lerman and Manila Austin, The Fifth ‘P’ of Marketing: Participation (Communispace whitepaper, 2007)

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collaboratioN = creativityMarketers must also consider trading sterility and one-to-one tactics for dynamic collaboration based on many-to-many interactions. To reap the benefits of collaborative creation, however, researchers need to get comfortable with—and figure out how to leverage—the group dynamics that naturally arise when people get together for any purpose. The likelihood that research participants will influence one another throughout the research process is an understandable concern; because interaction is encouraged and happens transparently in online communities, we worry that members are subject to “group think.”

But the days of isolated, pristine research are over. In this era of tweeting and lifestreaming and rating and review sites and human billboards, everyone is subject to influence from their peers. Rather than attempting to isolate people or control their interaction (or worse, constraining the naturalistic community setting by virtually hiding responses or forcing anonymity), we need to ask ourselves how to observe influence behavior and learn from it.

The alli® example demonstrates the creative potential in building on group processes for breakthrough solutions.

oN INFLuENCEWhen gSk conSuMeR heAlthcARe IntRoDuceD AllI, We DID So knoWIng thAt thIS WAS A PRoDuct thAt coulD elIcIt SoMe IntenSe eMotIonAl ReSPonSeS. ouR PRIVAte coMMunItIeS gAVe uS A chAnce to PoSe QueStIonS of uSeRS AnD non-uSeRS AlIke, but MoRe IMPoRtAntly, to See WhAt QueStIonS AllI non-uSeRS PoSeD of uSeRS, AnD of hoW PASSIonAte AllI conSuMeRS AnSWeReD theM, DeScRIbeD theIR oWn exPeRIenceS, AnD MADe theIR oWn RecoMMenDAtIonS. I’D lIke to thInk thAt We WeRe VISIonARy MARket ReSeARcheRS DoIng cuttIng-eDge WoRk, but honeStly, I thInk We WeRe JuSt beIng ReAlIStIc About the fAct thAt conSuMeRS hAVe unPReceDenteD oPPoRtunIty to Influence one AnotheR onlIne. So ouR goAl WASn’t to PRe-eMPt ‘gRouP thInk’ So Much AS to unDeRStAnD It, to See the PeeR-to-PeeR Influence PRoceSS In ActIon AnD leARn fRoM It. ANDREA HARKINS, MANAgER, INTEgRATED INSIgHTS, gLAxOSMITHKLINE CONSUMER HEALTHCARE

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lookiNg forward = the future

oN Co-CREATIoNScholAStIc book clubS Recently Won A foRReSteR ReSeARch gRounDSWell AWARD foR ouR WoRk WIth A cuStoMeR coMMunIty coMPRISeD of PARentS AnD teAcheRS. ouR goAl WAS to ReDeSIgn the book club flyeR In An effoRt to IMPRoVe the WAy PARentS, kIDS, AnD teAcheRS fInD AnD buy the RIght book foR the RIght chIlD. by zooMIng out AnD exPloRIng not JuSt hoW teAcheRS eVAluAte bookS, but hoW PARentS eVAluAte theIR kIDS’ ReADIneSS AnD InteReSt In ReADIng, thIS gRouP helPeD uS effectIVely ReDeSIgn ouR IconIc flyeR. thIS fRuItful co-cReAtIon coulDn’t hAVe hAPPeneD If We hAD SIMPly SolIcIteD feeDbAck on flyeR DeSIgnS fRoM one gRouP oR the otheR In ISolAtIon. the tRAnSPARency AnD oPPoRtunIty foR MutuAl Influence, Along WIth ActIVe, VISIble fAcIlItAtIon IS WhAt MADe thIS PRoceSS So PRoDuctIVe. jUDY NEWMAN, pRESIDENT OF SCHOLASTIC BOOK CLUBS

The industry’s historical focus on producing irrefutable, nationally representative data points is meaningful only if we limit the role of market research to testing and confirmation. But if market research is to win a permanent seat at the executive table, if it is to be integral to brand strategy, then it has got to be about creation, not just prediction. It is time to trade a backward-looking and confirmatory stance for a forward-looking and generative approach.

It is no longer clear in today’s long-tailed, filtered, personalized world that it is actually, scientifically possible to accurately predict behavior. But what we can do is co-create with our consumers, rapidly, ideally one step ahead of them, but at least with them.

Markets are becoming more diverse and will continue to change rapidly. So generating insights and engaging in co-creation upstream in the development process and doing it in an agile way (with short time frames and a focus on niche markets as they emerge)—these are the ways market researchers will keep pace with customers and “go where they go.” And those market researchers who can “do” upstream creation as well as prediction will play strategic roles in driving business.

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tradiNg off caN meaN tradiNg up.

the InDuStRy hAS MoVeD AWAy fRoM JuSt beIng Seen AS A QuASI-ScIentIfIc ActIVIty, PRoVIDIng hARD QuAntItAtIVe MeASuReMent thAt IS DetAcheD fRoM the cReAtIVe PRoceSS AnD the coMPlexItIeS of IntuItIVe DecISIon-MAkIng. toDAy, It IS Seen AS AlSo eMbRAcIng A Much MoRe PRAgMAtIc APPRoAch thAt ReQuIReS hIgh leVelS of cReAtIVIty AnD IMAgInAtIon In oRDeR to teASe out key InSIghtS.DVL SMITH, UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE, U.K.

It’S About unDeRStAnDIng the huMAn conDItIon. We’Re too focuSeD on unDeRStAnDIng conSuMPtIon behAVIoR AnD ShoPPIng behAVIoR. We neeD to unDeRStAnD the huMAn conDItIon, WhIch you’ll only knoW by obSeRVIng, lIStenIng, SyntheSIzIng AnD DeDucIng. “(COCA-COLA’S) STAN STHANUNATHAN ON WHY QUALITY DOESN’T MATTER,” RESEARCH., 22 OCTOBER 2009

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summaryThe kinds of results we have observed over the years are specific to communities as we do them at Communispace, where insights are generated in the context of continuous, longitudinal, intimate, purpose-driven groups, and where community members forge real relationships with one another and with our clients over time.

But beyond our own experience, we generally believe that an online, iterative, consumer-centric approach mitigates some of the risks and challenges of conventional market research, can actually enhance quality, and uncovers relevant insights quickly in a way that is fun and authentic for real people. By leveraging emerging technologies that foster connection, researchers can avoid the pitfalls of barging into peoples’ lives and instead meet them where they are. As a result, research efforts are likely to yield more spontaneous and revealing insights. And as an added advantage, there are also efficiencies and cost-savings researchers can achieve by capturing a high volume of rich, open-ended data at a relatively low cost.

By using humanistic, transparent approaches—in essence, by encouraging consumers to become engaged in the form as well as the substance of the research—we get really engaged, motivated participants. By involving customers as actors, not just as subjects; by bringing their voices into every organizational function, market researchers will enable consumer-led growth. They’ll ensure that their companies generate solutions that are relevant to customers—in design, function, packaging, and messaging—and in so doing, drive growth and innovation.

21ST CeNTUry MeThod

human, transparent approaches

Consumer-centric settings (leveraging online, mobile, and other technologies)

Fast, targeted inquiries

Large scale “qualitative”

Building relationships that endure over time

PoTeNTiAl gAiN

Engaged, motivated participants who generate higher quality data

“Naturalistic” settings that feel safe, maximize comfort, and encourage intimacy

Research findings that are relevant, timely, and actionable

Collecting an unprecedentedly large number of open-ended data at a relatively low cost

Deep knowledge of participants as real people, leading to greater insight and increased confidence (you can trust that you really know the people participating)