Case Study

Long-Term Online Communities – Perfect for Agile Innovation


In recent years, the alcoholic beverage category has seen an influx of new entrants and products. So what can an established, well-known brand do to stay at the forefront of a crowded, ever-changing landscape?

A large, well-known alcoholic beverage manufacturer needed a ready-made, cost-efficient way to conduct timely consumer research. Because their industry is ever-changing, the solution needed to be nimble and methodologically flexible.

Our solution? A long-term, agile, web-based community that granted the client access to immediate feedback from thousands of consumers.


In Need of a Quick-Turn System

An alcoholic beverage manufacturer approached C+R with a request to develop a quick and cost-effective method for connecting the manufacturer’s innovation and brand teams with consumers.

Our challenge: create a quick-turn system to give our client direct access to thousands of consumers on an ongoing basis. The system needed to be agile, flexible, and enable any kind of research—qual or quant.


A Flexible, Responsive, Long-Term Community

To help our clients answer their important business questions, we created an online community with approximately 5,000 consumers of various alcoholic beverages (including beer, wine, and spirits).

The community is housed on an online platform that enables a myriad of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Best of all, our client is able to get feedback in days – and sometimes hours.

Quantitative tools like polls and surveys, heat maps, shelf sets, Max Diff, and TURF are used to quantify participants’ awareness, attitudes, preferences, and perceptions of appeal. Online qualitative tools like digital discussions, video and journal entries, webcam-based interviews, and markup and sorting activities complement and supplement quantitative approaches. In-person focus groups and interviews enable participants to engage in tastings, discussions, and central location tests. 

Community members are between the ages of 21 and 59 and are located throughout the United States and Canada. Several consumer subsets are based in major cities to facilitate in-person research, when needed. The panel undergoes a refresh every six months to remove participants who are no longer active, and to keep perspectives fresh.

In long-term communities, maintaining client and participant engagement is critical. C+R connects with participants in a variety of ways, including (very) brief polls and an always-on, member-led open forum that allows for discussions covering a wide range of topics, including key categories and everyday life. Clients regularly engage with the research via frequent meetings, mid-point check-ins, email summaries, and feedback loops.

The result

More Than 125 Unique Research Projects (and Counting)

In the lifespan of this long-term online community, we have completed over 125 unique research projects (and counting). Projects range from early-stage development to end-stage and have included packaging refreshes, concept and claims feedback, taste tests for new flavors and formulations, and new product naming. 

The flexibility of the community lets the client utilize the most appropriate methodology for each business question, and the team gets results far more quickly compared to more traditional research approaches. Frequent feedback allows results to be rapidly incorporated into the business so that new questions can be formulated and researched – keeping the client ahead of consumers’ ever-changing needs and desires.

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