Awareness is Everything

Monday, September 21, 2009

Social Media and Market Research

Earlier this month Brad Bortner posed this question in The Forrester Blog For B2B Market Research Professionals:
"Are MROCs [Market Research Online Communities] the next big thing in market research, and will they eventually take measurable share from traditional qualitative research?"
Sentient Services has been working in online qualitative for a few years now through asynchronous bulletin board focus groups. While you give up a lot in moving away from a face-to-face interaction (body language, vocal intonation, etc.), in an asynchronous online group you have a lot of different strengths.
  1. Less time restraint – respondents have more time to think, they can look up notes and do “homework” assignments. Additionally, we can let side conversations go and see if the tangent provides additional insight
  2. Broader coverage – asynchronous participation means that respondents aren’t locked into 6-8pm ET, making time zones a non-issue. This translates to breaking down some geographic boundaries.
  3. Bigger groups – we’re not limited to the capacity of a conference room, meaning that we “seat” at least 12 participants per group (vs. 6-8 participants in a traditional group).
While we’ve previously scrutinized sample goodness when using social networks for market research and the value of polling features in LinkedIn, I believe MROCs (private online communities focused on research) are just an extension of online methodologies we already see. Instead of recruiting participants to one online discussion or survey, they are being recruited for continuing feedback on a variety of topics. And MROCs will impact both qualitative and quantitative research – it’s just as easy to host a survey in an online community as it is a forum discussion.

What are your thoughts on MROCs? What other evolutions do you foresee in the research industry?

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Online tools for parents

As some of you may know I have been on maternity leave for the last 3 months. My days (and nights too) have been consumed with feedings, changing diapers, trying to keep up with the endless amount of laundry (who knew someone so little could produce so much laundry), and staring in wonderment at this amazing person. Now that I am back to work and my former life at Sentient has resumed I am spending my days talking to clients, writing proposals, reviewing reports, and managing projects again. Two very different roles. And as many working parents before me I am learning to manage and balance work and family. So how do we manage it all? Fortunately for me I work for a company that is my “village” so to speak and has been very supportive, generous and accommodating during this time of adjustment. In addition to working for a great company, I have discovered a plethora of online tools (many of course sponsored by brands) to track, answer, remind, and verify my every parenting move, question, task and concern.

Here are a few of my favorites. – everything from mommy and baby horoscopes, to baby milestone videos, community blogs, development calendar, recall finder, deal finder, and much, much more. – Their tagline is “Family Life. Simplified. This tool is a multimedia organizer for busy parents. The tool keeps track of calendars, shopping lists, family journal postings and pictures and you can coordinate it all from your desktop, notebook, phone, or PDA. You can sync your outlook and cozi calendars, send or leave a message to a family member (dinner at Hula Hut at 7pm!) or send your shopping list to your cell phone. See a tutorial here. – a widget that lets you customize your own pregnancy countdown so you can watch your baby grow from a tiny dot to a full grown fetus. Check it here.

These online tools and forums were not available to my parents when they were raising me. They had to rely on more archaic means…like calling their parents in a panic in the middle of the night to find out how to treat a fever and of course there was and is always Dr. Spock (he is online now too). So as the diffusion of parenting information evolves, I wonder what tools my child will use when she becomes a parent. What’s next?

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