Creating a sustainable future for MROCs: Preventing the exhaustion of the most promising development of our industry

Anke Bergmans, Jos Vink and Michelle de Laat

Introduction

About ten years ago, the industry witnessed the birth of a new method in market research: online qualitative. Agencies (and software suppliers) developed technical solutions to bring traditional qualitative methods online. In those days we worked with basic online tools: diaries, chats and bulletin boards.1) Although these tools were basic, they provided the opportunity to gather qualitative information within a short period of time. More importantly, respondents participated in a way that was more fun. Following these developments, we have seen the rise of a next generation in online qualitative: market research online communities (MROCs). New technologies enable researchers to organise an online research environment where respondents – 'members' – take part in research assignments – 'challenges'. Apparently, members enjoy this new way of participating in research and show up every day to log their diaries, join chat sessions, fill out short questionnaires, join photo challenges, etc. They devote quite some time to these assignments and, in doing so, create valuable information. The good news is that consumers actually enjoy their new role. Our industry embraced MROCs as the solution for and answer to some important challenges.