Always-on research: 24/7 dialogues with customers in a community? Yes, we can!

Tom De Ruyck
InSites Consulting, Belgium
Anouk Willems
InSites Consulting, Netherlands


Social media has gained considerable human relevance. User-created content, citizen journalism and online social interactions (e.g. conversation, collaboration, participation, sharing, connecting) are embedded into the daily lives of consumers. With the different semantic waves of the web, the entire market research process and industry has undergone clear changes.

Market research has changed from asking questions to having conversations with consumers. Online Research Communities have proven to be a viable environment to engage with consumers as well as marketing executives in a connected and participatory way. What makes research communities unique is that they assemble consumers to interact in an asynchronous longitudinal setting by applying social media techniques. Companies outsource tasks to a crowd (e.g. product and service creation and testing) in an open call in order to bring consumers inside organizations all the way up to the boardroom. Research communities bring true consumer connect between marketers and their target groups as they use interactive tools to tap into social interactions between people, and allow a more equal relationship between researchers, brands nd participants.