To stay ahead of the competition and provide customers with the best experiences possible, businesses need to understand their customers in real-time. This means no more formulaic and lengthy market research campaigns that quickly go stale. Today, agile market research is the name of the game as it focuses on what’s working for customers right now and what isn’t.

While market research is essential to any business, it can be confusing and overwhelming. Many people are scared off by the thought of market research online communities (MROCs) because they think it will be too difficult to recruit members, be too expensive or take too much time. In reality, market research doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg or take up all your time. This article will debunk some common myths about market research and show how MROCS can help businesses thrive in these uncertain times with a high return on investment (ROI) and increased customer retention. 

Common MROC Myths Debunked 

They Are Too Difficult To Recruit For

MROCs are a qualitative research tool modeled after social media networking sites with more intimate conditions. Because of the structure of these communities, respondents can interact with one another, resulting in a more organic engagement than would be possible in larger feedback environments. 

Many business leaders fear that online community participants won’t be willing to share their opinions publicly with a group of strangers, but nothing could be further from the truth. If a MROC is run properly, members will openly share feedback.  

For an online community to work, it has to be a safe place where customers can provide feedback and get help. It should also be open with live chats, surveys, member forums, and direct interaction between customers and your company. Customers expect to receive some incentive or exclusive content in return for feedback. For example, gift cards, charity donations, conference tickets, special CEO luncheons, and insider product information are great ways to reward customers for their honest input and get them more involved in your community. Remember, loyal customers are the key to profitability–the 20% of customers that spend the most make up 80% of your revenue.  We take an in-depth look at MROC engagement and retention in our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Engagement and Retention: Many Voices, One Community.

They Are Too Time-Consuming

Setting up a community takes time and energy. It requires recruiting new members, managing their activity, overseeing project management, and more. While creating an initial MROC takes time, maintaining a community is fool-proof with the right tools, allowing businesses to launch or tweak products faster and more efficiently than ever before. 

Fuel Cycle Community and dedicated community managers streamline the process, coordinating and funneling participants toward research activities.  Our community managers also help with project setup, so that you’re never alone during the MROC lifecycle.  

With agile research conducted within MROCs, companies continuously collect data to incorporate customer and employee needs into products, communications, and services. With real-time qualitative research, brands can quickly make decisions that lead to long-term success. When new products are implemented, they are introduced to the market quickly; changes to existing products are made quickly, and new ideas are evaluated rapidly.

They Run Out Of Steam

Another common MROC myth is that they bore customers and run out of steam quickly. While asking members to do long, drawn-out surveys every week will make them run for the hills, having a variety of new and engaging activities coordinated by a moderator will keep members dedicated to the community. 

When it comes to building a lasting relationship with your customers, communities go above and beyond the call of duty. Communities create such an intimate bond between a brand and its customers that members spend up to 20% more on average than non-members and are less likely to leave for a competitor. As companies create brand advocates within their communities, acquisition and retention rates, along with related metrics like share of wallet and frequency of purchase, tend to rise.

They Are Too Expensive 

Times are tough right now. Between inflation, supply chain challenges, and waning customer demand for products, businesses are grappling with how to cut costs while remaining competitive in their respective markets. Many executives put market research campaigns on the chopping block when the economy is unpredictable—fearing that MROCs will consume too much of their budgets. 

It’s important to remember that customer retention is key to retaining market share during turbulent times. It’s estimated that 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, but many companies focus more on customer acquisition than on retaining those customers. Companies often focus on the wrong things when it comes to understanding consumer sentiments, and they don’t always know how to turn that information into actionable business decisions.

Communities help companies to understand their customers better, empowering them to make smarter decisions, resulting in a stronger customer experience that leads to greater customer retention, advocacy, and growth. They can also help companies cut costs by combining surveys, live chats, and other tools into one place. Fuel Cycle Communities can pay for themselves in saved research and sample costs in as little as four months.

Bottom Line

Market research is an integral part of any business. Still, many business owners are scared off by the thought of creating an online market research community due to recruitment, cost, and time investment. 

One reason for this fear is that companies aren’t familiar with the best ways to understand unique consumer sentiments and make business decisions based on consumer preferences. Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. With the help of an active online community, getting to know your customers and focusing on making business changes that please your customer base is possible.

To keep your most loyal customers engaged, you need to know what they want and need. Online communities are a great way to do just that. With Fuel Cycle, you can engage with your customers and find out what they want in your products or services. That way, you can ensure that the things you do match up with their wants and needs and make it easier to retain those customers. If you’re ready to reach more customers, it’s time to start an online community.
Fuel Cycle Community is the ultimate customer panel platform for brands to identify and track market attitudes, behaviors, and preferences in real-time. Request a demo today.