Ideal participants in online market research: Lessons from closed communities

Aleksej Heinze

University of Salford

Elaine Ferneley

University of Manchester

Paul Child

Join the Dots


Online market research communities are becoming increasingly popular with organisations for harnessing intelligence, and assisting them in making decisions about new product and services delivery (Oxley 2006). This new method of market research adoption is fuelled by the growing penetration rates of internet connectivity and the use of social media services (Aaker et al. 2011). With the increasing acceptance of online market research communities, we have to question the validity of data and decisions generated through these communities (Comley & Beaumont 2011a, 2011b). The challenges and gravity of the market research stage are well illustrated by the Coca-Cola example (Imram 1999). Although not conducted in online communities, where responses were surveyed about New Coke, the question asked during the taste test influenced a major decision in the brand’s strategy, which turned out to be unpopular with consumers (Greenwald et al. 1985). This decision was ultimately adjusted by the reintroduction of Coca-Cola Classic in response to consumer reaction.