During economic downturns, banks must remain connected to their customers and communities to provide financial support and stability to individuals and businesses. Building strong online community ties is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. This article will explore how banks can use online communities to make connections and the robust benefits communities provide businesses during economic downturns. 

Online Communities Help Banks Build Connections

MROC, short for online communities for market research, are gatherings of consumers who have consented to participate in virtual activities and discussions to offer insights for market research. This approach enables market researchers to use quantitative and qualitative techniques on a single platform, featuring discussion boards, diary studies, live chats, focus groups, and observer views. 

The members of such communities benefit from a mutually beneficial relationship with financial services brands, receiving brand information and updates while also considering their opinions and feedback, leading to increased engagement. Moreover, researchers have immediate access to an audience that can be leveraged in real-time.

The investment firm Vanguard launched an MROC to meet its growing need for customer data and engagement with 3,800 retail investors.

The banking industry recognizes the significant benefits of establishing and nurturing robust connections with online communities. Primarily, online communities provide a direct line of communication between banks and their customers. By engaging with customers through digital channels, banks can acquire valuable knowledge of their client’s needs and concerns and offer customized solutions and support accordingly.

Benefits Of MROCs For Banks During Recessions

Higher Customer Engagement

Online communities can play a crucial role in determining the success of banks during periods of economic recession. Customers participating in online market research communities exhibit notably higher customer loyalty and retention levels. By participating in these communities, bank customers can engage with their bank, provide feedback on their experiences and offer suggestions for improvement. 

A Fuel Cycle client, Reader’s Digest, found that 87% of online group participants felt more favorable toward the brand after participating in a research project.

Increased Customer Retention

Market research online community participants are more likely to remain loyal to their bank than customers who do not participate in such online communities. This trend can be attributed to the trust and personal connection that customers develop by being active members of an online community. By being a part of a community, customers can establish a relationship with their bank that goes beyond just basic financial transactions. They feel that they are valued and heard and that their opinion matters.

83% of customers agree they feel more loyal to brands that respond to and resolve their complaints.

Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

In addition to customer engagement and retention, online communities can increase word-of-mouth marketing for banks. Customers who feel a sense of belonging in an online community are more likely to recommend their bank to friends and family, potentially increasing new business. 

Customers who are active members of an online community tend to feel a stronger sense of attachment and belonging to their bank. As a result, they are more likely to recommend their bank to friends and family members seeking banking services. These customers become natural brand ambassadors, spreading positive messages about the bank and sharing their positive experiences with others. With social media playing an increasingly critical role in shaping consumer behavior, the power of word-of-mouth marketing cannot be underestimated. 

By cultivating strong relationships with customers through online communities, banks can tap into this highly effective form of marketing and acquire new customers. Furthermore, with the ease of digital communication, positive word-of-mouth recommendations can spread quickly, amplifying the impact of a bank’s online community.

72% of customers will share a good experience with a brand with others.

Valuable Insights For Better Products & Services

The benefits of online communities extend beyond customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing. Participating in online market research communities can also provide valuable insights and feedback for banks, leading to better products and services.

The advantages of online communities for banks extend beyond customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing. Online communities offer an excellent platform for banks to obtain valuable insights and feedback from their customers, which can be used to improve their products and services. By leveraging the opinions and experiences of a diverse group of customers, banks can better understand their customers’ needs and preferences and identify areas that require improvement. 

Moreover, online communities provide banks with real-time data and feedback that can help them respond quickly to changes in the market and adjust their offerings accordingly. 

Opportunities For Collaboration & Partnerships

Finally, participating in online communities can lead to opportunities for collaboration and partnerships. In addition to providing customer insights and feedback, participating in online communities can lead to new and exciting opportunities for collaboration and partnerships for businesses. By engaging with customers through online communities, banks can establish relationships with other companies that cater to similar customer segments or offer complementary services. 

These partnerships can be mutually beneficial, leading to shared resources, cross-promotions, and access to new markets. Moreover, online communities provide a platform for banks to network with other industry players, exchange ideas and best practices, and identify emerging trends and opportunities. Banks can remain competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing business landscape by collaborating with other businesses. 

Additionally, partnerships that emerge from online communities can foster innovation and develop new solutions, leading to significant business growth and success. In summary, online communities provide banks a valuable opportunity to connect with other businesses, form strategic partnerships, and remain competitive in the marketplace.


MROCs offer significant benefits to banking firms during times of economic hardship. Establishing and nurturing robust connections with online communities can boost customer engagement and retention while encouraging word-of-mouth marketing. Furthermore, online communities offer rich insights to companies that can help them develop new products and services or expand to new markets. Lastly, communities open the door to collaborations and partnerships that otherwise would not be possible. 

Learn more about market research by reading our latest report, The Future of Banking: Mapping the Financial Customer Journey.