Netnography research – community insights in the cosmetic industry
Michael Bartl and Steffen Hück
“Markets are Conversations” is a widely discussed statement based on the fact that historically the marketplace was not only a location where people met to trade goods, but also a place where they talked about their needs and problems. In doing so, people connected to each other. These classical marketplaces rarely exist today, as most people shop in specialized stores where they interact only with sellers. The Internet is an advancement in mass media that recreated such “old” marketplaces on a large scale. It hosts and provides access to virtual marketplaces, where consumers can once again easily connect to each other. There is little doubt that the internet has also changed the way consumers communicate. An increasing number of consumers actively gather together online and communicate in web forums, blogs and various kinds of user generated content platforms. They exchange personal experiences and opinions about products and their usage and talk about opportunities for solving product-related problems (need-information). Some even develop product modifications and innovations, which they post online and share with other community members (solution-information). This makes online communities' interaction platforms where highly involved consumers exchange existing needs, wishes, experiences, motivations, attitudes and perceptions towards products and brands. In literature most authors refer to Consumer Insights as a rather fuzzy concept. The notion includes statements based on a deep understanding of the target consumers' attitudes and beliefs and apprehending the inner nature of things. It is about an extended understanding of products within their context and scenario of usage. Based on various research studies conducted in different industries and branches (e.g. sports, personal care/cosmetics, media, food, electronic goods, telecommunication, etc.), the authors differentiate four levels of Consumer Insights accessible in Online Communities which are illustrated in Figure 1.