The Power of Online Market Research Communities: Benefits, Types, and Platform Choices

The Power of Online Market Research Communities: Benefits, Types, and Platform Choices

 Online market research communities, or MROCs, have become an important tool for brands to stay close to their customers and receive comprehensive qualitative feedback. These closed networks of profiled, opted-in research participants take part in structured and unstructured qualitative research tasks that are hosted on a long-term basis. Traditionally, these communities consist of up to 500 customers and operate on an invitation-only basis. However, with advances in technology and the growing importance of customer centricity, the dynamics of these communities continue to evolve. Community panels combine the scope of a customer panel with the qualitative nature of an online community, while the closed nature of research communities is being questioned as companies seek to engage more with a broad spectrum of customers. In this article, we examine the goals of online communities, their benefits and challenges, and choosing the right research community platform for your brand.

Benefits of Online Research Communities

The most significant benefit of an online research community is the simplification of recruitment, incentive management, and quality control of participants. Online communities are populated with pre-profiled participants, making recruitment and incentives for individual quality projects easy to manage on a single platform. This leads to increased project management efficiency and faster insights.

Another benefit of an online research community is its flexible scope and scope. Many platforms can run projects across multiple languages, regions, brands, and consumer segments. This allows a community to grow with a brand and its research needs.

According to AQR, online communities can incrementally lead participants into more complex areas of discussion and topics than other, more short-term methods would allow. Communities encourage more reflective, deeper insights because participants have more time to think about answers, replies, and suggestions from other members.

Additionally, community platforms provide opportunities for participant-to-participant interaction that are not present in project-based structures. A well-maintained community provides insights on a project basis and acts as a stepping stone to even deeper discussions as clients create and share their content.

Types of online research communities

There are three types of market research communities: project-based communities, listening communities, and pop-up communities. These communities are not mutually exclusive and often the best communities are a mix of all. For our honor, Let us have a detailed discussion of these platforms in the below section.

Project-Based Communities

Project-based communities are long-term research investments that enable researchers to execute continuous insight plans. Projects can include focus groups, bulletin boards, journals, picture and video assignments, or dedicated forum discussions. They allow researchers to hop in and out without having to recruit from outside sources, but require constant management to maintain commitment.

Listening Communities

The goal of listening communities is to let participants engage in conversations and better understand topics that arise organically. Unlike project-based communities, researchers do not set agendas and projects, instead providing space for participants to discuss what matters most to them and to listen.

Pop-up communities

Pop-up communities are short-term projects, often lasting three months or less, designed to gather rich, qualitative insights on a single topic. Often, pop-up communities are managed as subsets of a larger community program, but they can also stand alone.

Choosing a research community platform

Choosing the right supplier is an important decision and can significantly affect the success of a research project. Factors to consider are tool availability, recruitment methods, user experience, support services and return on investment.

Most online research community platform  have similar core features, e.g. B. A range of data collection methods, custom branding and data exports. However, the following questions should be considered during the platform selection process:

Platform capabilities

How does the platform handle multiple projects and communities? What community structure works best for your brand if you want to segment customers or run projects across multiple products/categories?

User experience

Who is the platform designed for and who in my organization will use it? Does the platform simplify user interfaces for easier use and are they more attractive to a non-research audience?

Support Services

Does the platform offer support services such as dedicated account management, project management, or technical support? What is the reputation of the platform for customer service?

Return on investment

What is the pricing structure and how does it compare to other research community platforms? How do the platform’s capabilities affect the return on investment, such as cost savings, efficiency, and data quality?

How does the platform handle participant management? How does it enable profiling, incentive management and privacy?

Does the platform provide access to real-time feedback or analytics? If so, how can this data be exported, visualized and processed?

Does the platform offer additional or niche features? For example, integrated social media listening or project management tools.

What track record does the supplier have? How well do they support customers after the sale? Do they offer additional added value or services?

By considering these questions during the platform selection process, you can find a platform that meets the needs of your research community and can provide a positive return on investment.


In summary, online market research communities are an effective way for brands to stay close to their customers and receive comprehensive qualitative feedback. They simplify recruitment, incentive management and participant quality control, and offer flexible scaling and scope. With the ability to lead participants to more complex areas of discussion and encourage reflective, in-depth insight, online communities are becoming increasingly popular among researchers.

When choosing a research community platform or market research software, it’s important to consider factors such as the platform’s handling of multiple projects and communities, participant management, access to real-time feedback and analytics, and the provider’s track record.

While communities aren’t without challenges, they’re a great way to stay connected with customers and stay abreast of new trends and topics. By investing in an online market research community, brands can not only better understand their customers, but also create a space for customer-to-customer interaction and co-creation, fostering long-term brand loyalty and advocacy.

About the author

Johnny is dedicated to providing useful information on commonly asked questions on the internet. He is thankful for your support ♥

Leave a Comment