In the second of our series of blogs about how we can gather better insight online, we discuss the ways in which online qual delivers a more valuable research process for groups that are typically more challenging to engage with using traditional approaches.

Gathering Better Insight…by making the research process more valuable and more accessible for ‘hard to engage’ groups

The ubiquitous presence of smartphones across the globe means people can now participate in research in a way that is genuine and aligned with their 'typical' behaviour. Allowing participants to control when and how they interact has a huge impact on quality of insight, especially for groups who are usually hard to engage with, or for experiences that are hard to capture.

We’ve used global pop-up communities, accessible via mobile phones, to talk about topics as wide-ranging as how tradesmen interact with builders' merchants; how music interplays with lifestyle and culture among consumers in China ; and what drives decision making for C-suite execs when they’re looking at which countries to establish physical bases in.

Whether it’s getting data at the point of the experience (what are you listening to right now and why did you choose it), or creating a more valuable research experience (talk to others about the decisions you need to make and the challenges you have), an online community approach can deliver better data and insight.

Aligning with consumers’ lifestyles also makes the process itself more appealing for those taking part, driving recognition of the intrinsic value of the research over and above financial reward. This ‘readiness to be involved’ becomes even more important for projects such as mapping long customer journeys, where a pop-up community provides an always-on, unobtrusive platform for sharing details from consumers over an extended period of time.

We ran a year-long longitudinal project for a tech client to understand Millennials and their tech purchase decision making. It provided a safe space where respondents could air their views without judgement; engaging them using the familiarity of a social-media styled community and allowing digital connections to form with peers, researchers and stakeholders. The natural setting of the approach became the very essence of its success.

So, whether it’s getting closer to experiences, creating more valuable experiences for participants, or having more authentic conversations, an online community approach can often be a better (not just a good alternative) way of gathering rich, detailed qualitative insight.

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