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Combine online panels with other market research tactics

SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 – Conducting market research can offer valuable insight into consumer demand, which can help companies as they design new products and campaigns to advertise their offerings.

Leslie Warshaw of Lightspeed Research outlined a few other benefits of online research communities on her company’s blog. She said online communities can often be useful for businesses looking to take a measure of their markets. Setting up a long-term forum can make participants feel as if they are truly part of a social group, which may encourage them to be more open, willing to share and invested in the discussion, she says.

Warshaw also forecasts that creating a mixture of tactics – such as running online communities while simultaneously conducting market research panels and surveys – will be the “real growth areas” for the industry. She added that social media will be a valuable tool for marketers, and offers a variety of functions that they should employ to reach out to all demographics, including the younger set.

“They’re all about telling you what they think, so giving them an outlet for constructive feedback is key,” Warshaw writes.

Indeed, one social media website is working to offer additional functions to users, and as a result, may be even more helpful for marketers looking to gather information on consumer behavior and preferences.

Facebook is currently doing redesigns with the goal of making users even more attached to the platform and creating a sort of hub for all their photos, communications with friends, family and brands. A side effect may be that users offer even more information about themselves that marketers can apply when designing new campaigns.

“If you look at Facebook’s history, obviously they are not afraid of making change,” Sean Corcoran, a Forrester Research analyst, told The Associated Press. “They have done a lot of big changes in the past and people have gotten upset. But most of the time Facebook has been right.”

The new Timeline structure will be similar to a scrapbook, and may further “merge people’s online and offline lives,” according to the source. Other brands, from music service Spotify to clothier Express, have directly linked their online operations to Facebook, melding the social and commercial functions.