MRT - The Trends & Technology Section of MrWeb

Online Communities & Custom Panels

In with the right crowd?

Toluna's Paul Twite on the many uses of a (well-chosen) online community
November 2017

Ask a thousand people, at a music festival, to guess the weight of a cow, and take the average, they'll get the wrong answer. Ask 100 farmers, at a livestock auction, take the average and they'll get it right. There's my 13 year-old son's take on the wisdom of crowds (he'd nicked my holiday read, Think like a Freak, and I think he'd taken some of it to heart). I suppose what it teaches us is to ask the right audience, the right questions in the right format at the right time to unveil something of use.

Qualitative and quantitative insights used to be two distinct functions in market research - you'd conduct a focus group to gain opinion, and then run a survey to understand how many people felt that way. This is a crucial step of any marketing campaign, as data informs targeting and this insight gives greater understanding of the audience. This has become more critical as marketing teams look to understand the 'why' behind the 'what,' making consumer insight ever more important.

To complicate things further, marketers often want to use a variety of content types to keep things lively and fresh for its audience, but want things at an unprecedented speed. This is where Quick Communities can help companies go beyond the transaction and learn the 'why' behind consumer sentiment and action.

The introduction of agile community-based research enables marketers to target the right audience, by demographics, attitudinal segmentation, or profile attributes and obtain qualitative and quantitative insight in a seamless manner. And by agile, we mean a customer segment can be put together, in the next 60 minutes, to discuss any topic in more than 60 countries across the globe.

This effectively means marketers have brand advisors who can assist with gathering relevant consumer feedback and brainstorming new products and concepts, which are available on tap.

This delivers the full picture of behaviour and attitudes owned by consumers and can add real depth. In recent Quick Communities we've hosted for clients, we've added depth of understanding to advertising campaigns, provided better clarity to fundraising messages and unlocked some consumer lifestyle questions for some of the world's largest brands.

Recently, at our Toluna Summer Summit, we discussed how a national tabloid newspaper recently used Quick Communities to get in the moment feedback on daily newspapers and their contents among a younger target audience. Quick Communities allowed the youth segment the paper interacted with to upload images directly from their smartphones, a device they feel comfortable to use to feedback on content.

And going back to that seamless interaction between quant and qual based research. We set up a Quick Community to measure response to the iPhone 8 launch.

As you can imagine, there were varied responses on how it was received. We were able to capture these insights within twelve hours of the launch to gain instant reactions. We then ran a concept test on the likelihood of success at which price point and had the results within 3 hours taking the views of more than 2,400 consumers giving us invaluable insight into the likelihood of Apple's success with its latest iteration (if you want to know the attitudinal differences between existing Android and Apple customers to the new iPhone, drop me a line).

Toluna QuickSurveys

The old way of conducting market research has been superseded in today's digital world. Accessing our Quick Communities presents the opportunity for brands to have that direct conversation with consumers in real-time. Even as companies are increasingly turning to mobile research and digital tracking to understand their consumers, these technologies are still limited in their ability to understand unpredictable human behavior and intent. The right solution lies in the amalgamation of technology with wide-ranging communities that can be tapped for immediate insights when brands need to inform on-the-spot decision-making.

Paul Twite is MD, Europe and MENA at communities and research technology specialist Toluna - current sponsors of MRT's Online Communities section

...and in case you're wondering, according to Wikipedia, a typical mature Holstein Friesian cow weighs 680-770 kg (1500-1700 pounds). That, as they don't say at Glastonbury, is a lot of grass - Ed.