The brave new world of web based research

More than a decade ago, when clients wanted faster, cheaper and more flexible research, the charge was led by software companies providing online survey solutions.

Many traditional market research agencies were either slow to react or sceptical of how online sample could provide valid results. While debate raged across the industry, software companies jumped straight in to fill client demand – often providing little more than advanced field and tab, leaving clients to unearth the insight.

Fast forward to the present and online research is a staple part of most clients’ research programmes. All the major MR companies now provide it and looking back the main question now seems to be “what took them so long?”.

We now have another similar situation of web-based technology driving innovation; Clients are rightly interested in the potential of harvesting insight from engaging with Branded Online Communities and listening to broader online conversations through Social Media Monitoring.

But is it actually Market Research? And does it matter? Again, the sceptics will argue that both these methods are not “representative” of a client’s customer base and hence there are issues around quality and validity. And again, software suppliers have jumped in to will the breach.

There are already a multitude of companies offering to monitor “what” is being said about brands online. However, it is the role of research to understand “why”.

And given it is a vocal minority making the comments in the first place, just how far are these concerns shared among all customers? To get a sense of perspective, how can findings be linked to ongoing research programmes?

Then we are faced with the most important question of what to do with your findings after you’ve gathered them? How do you take the measurement of online conversations and apply them to make better business decisions?

Finding insights, making recommendations and successfully communicating these to clients are key market research skills. But these skills cannot be brought to the table if market research stands on the sidelines while solutions are being software driven.

So, is your organisation embracing the new technology, but with a market research mindset?




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