Multi-language multi-continent B2B community panel: How B2B research can effectively span the world

Monique Morden and Eddie Accomando
Vision Critical, Canada and Texas Instruments, USA


The trend of globalization is alive and kicking. Global companies continue to expand into emerging markets where GDP growth is higher than in more traditional markets such as in North America which are experiencing lower rates of growth. Organizations developing strategies for these important regions are demanding market research to understand how they can successfully enter or expand within these fast growing countries. Economic growth in these countries and advancements in technology have created increased internet penetration, social media usage and smartphone ownership. These technological trends are predicted to continue increasing in the coming years.

These trends have fueled the use of online research methodologies inspired by the power of the internet and the connections made possible through social media: MROCs, Communities and Community Panels. All of these are closed communities used for the purpose of market research either qualitative or quantitative or a combination of the two. There are subtle differences between a MROC and Community Panel; the definitions below provide some clarity. This paper is focused on Community Panels.

  • MROC: Market Research Online Community is a qualitative approach involving 100 to 800 members using both quantitative tools (surveys, polls) and qualitative tools (discussions, auto-ethnography) but all with a qualitative Interpretation. MROCs can be short-term or long term, however, some people argue that 'real' communities can only be long-term, since it takes time to develop the dynamics inherent in a community.
  • Community Panels are larger in scale and can be used for both quantitative and qualitative research. As with an MROC, a typical community panel comprises customers and is branded. The primary differences with community panels lie in the size (between 4,000 and 40,000 members), ability to conduct quantitative research (due to larger sample sizes, deep profiling and targeted sample selection) and duration (almost always long-term).