07 Dec 2009

The Real Dawn of A New Methodology

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Over the past year, I have investigated and helped develop Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) on both the client and vendor side of the research industry. My experience on both sides of MROCs has surfaced some clear trends on the methodology:

  • MROCs are still misunderstood by many . . . While the methodology has been around for a couple of years, a lot of people still don’t’ get it. Is it an open community? Can I just create a Facebook page to get similar insights? These are questions that I’ve received about MROCs over the past year and they underscore the confusion that still exists. This confusion has slowed adoption of a very promising and valuable methodology that promises to transform the research industry.
  • . . . yet the word is spreading about the value they produce for clients. Despite the confusion, there are clients and prospects that “get” MROCs and the value they provide. The great thing is that the word is starting to spread among the research community, which will lead to less marketplace confusion and more genuine interest in the methodology.
  • The economy also slowed the growth of MROCs over the past year . . . MROCs have a reputation of being expensive and bandwidth intensive, not a good reputation to have when research budgets and staff are being slashed in many organizations. Part of this reputation was earned (largely by a lack of MROC supplier options), but part of it is also related to the overall confusion about the methodology which is just now starting to erode.
  •  . . . but 2010 shows a lot of promise for the methodology. Despite the challenges MROCs have faced, DRI is very bullish about the methodology. In fact, my colleague Jane lists the advance of MROCs as one of the Ten Market Research Trends for 2010. With more flexible MROC options at lower price points and flexible time commitments like Waggle and more client-side awareness of the value MROCs can provide, DRI sees 2010 as the real dawn of the MROC methodology.
  • One last closing thought — as I write this, MROCs today remind me of online surveys in the late 1990’s. Some people loved them and some people hated them. It was a relatively new methodology that hadn’t quite hit the big-time yet. But now look at it. Today, MROCs are about to take off just like online surveys did ten years ago, and we at DRI would be happy to help your organization get the most value out of this relatively new, exciting methodology.

    Christopher Kelley
    Research Director