LIVONIA, Michigan: Online market research companies have made significant steps in addressing client concerns about the quality of online research via initiatives in major markets such as North America and Europe.

But according to Reg Baker, of Market Strategies International, companies will face a challenge in applying the same approach to emerging markets such as China, Russia, India and Brazil.

In a paper to be presented at WARC's Online Research Conference, which runs in London on March 4 and 5, Baker will argue, with supporting international data, that in emerging markets a combination of low levels of internet penetration and significant differences in patterns of online use from those seen in Europe, means researchers may have to adapt their methods.

Specifically, the enthusiasm of audiences in emerging markets for using mobile and social networking platforms may mean that research groups need to apply different techniques from those used in the classic online panel model that has evolved in the US and Europe.

Among the case studies presented at the same conference is one featuring the use of social media to engage customers by UK building society Bradford & Bingley.

The company initially launched its own online forum to engage consumers by setting them "tasks", such as assessing the company's current advertising.

However, in the fallout from the banking crisis in the UK, which saw the Spanish bank Santander buy Bradford & Bingley's savings arm, this forum allowed the company to gauge consumer perceptions about the takeover in real-time.

Both of these cases will be discussed in more detail at WARC's Online Research Conference on 4–5 March, 2009 in London. For more details on this event click here.

Data sourced from WARC Online