Market Research Online Communities + Longitudinal Learnings

Filed Under: Communities & Panels, Online Communities


Alex Knepler

As the market research industry continues to evolve, communities have become an increasingly popular and effective tool for clients, with their promise of quick turn-around and cost-efficient studies. C+R Research has been at the forefront of this evolution, having built and maintained communities and panels for numerous clients over many years. 

Growing Demand for Research Communities and Panels

The growing demand for this model of research led C+R to officially create a new division dedicated solely to communities and panels in 2018.  This new division not only allows us to continue to meet the needs of our clients, but it’s an avenue to maintain a competitive edge when it comes to offering new and innovative techniques.

With so many agile market research solutions currently available, communities are also turning towards longitudinal learnings. We have found that rich insights are discovered through studies conducted over several months via long-term projects within communities. And, even if research is not conducted over several months, the community or panel in itself becomes a longitudinal initiative where clients, participants, and the C+R team members get to know each other over a long period of time which solidifies relationships and motivation for collaboration to better develop brands and products.

How? Several factors contribute:

Benefits of Research Communities 

  • Seeing it through – participants in a pre-existing community are uniquely well-suited for a longer study and committed to participating during an extended time period, whether this means a single research initiative or multiple shorter ones. As readily available members of an established online community, they are already dedicated and “in it for the long haul.” They are more likely to use their membership to maintain high energy and commitment throughout.
  • Comfort + familiarity with the platform – participants consider their membership in a long-term community as a part of their world. Pre-existing participants are already familiar with the site to complete studies. It is like the ultimate warm-up question, as they are already comfortable.
  • Enhanced social engagement – for studies that utilize social engagement, community membership enhances this element, allowing participants to easily open up and feel comfortable in being transparent with their responses. And because of the long-term duration, participants really get to know each other and share not only research perspectives but also personal stories that can help elicit ideas for clients.
  • Time + cost efficiencies –like a quick-turn project, a longer study will also benefit from the same efficiencies resulting from removing traditional recruitment methods from the timeline.
  • Richer insights + deeper story – whether needs are broad or niche, a long-term approach enables the ability to identify patterns by seeing how participant behaviors and feelings change (or remain steady) over a greater length of time. This can provide richer and more accurate insights as well as a clearer story. Additionally, communities and panels also provide a space for developing and building iterative learnings based on new findings and connections to past research with participants – with every new project, we can build new learnings that go beyond a single activity’s objective… it becomes an ongoing process. 
  • Opportunities to build further – longitudinal learnings can be utilized as foundational guides for future needs, and community participants can easily be re-contacted to respond to follow-up questions or participate in further related studies. All aspects of their lives and world are accessible in a way you are not able to get elsewhere.

Long Story Short about Market Research Online Communities

While online communities grow in popularity as time- and cost-efficient options for market research, they can also be effectively utilized for conducting comprehensive deep dive explorations that lead to increased understanding based on long-term consumer behaviors and patterns. 

If you are weighing the benefits of a community, we at C+R are proud to offer flexible options to suit your specific needs, both short- and long-term!

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