A word from Tom De Ruyck

Tom De Ruyck is Senior ForwaR&D Lab Consultant at InSites Consulting
What’s the new ‘buzz word’ in your domain? What does it mean and what do we do with it?
Online Research Communities are definitely the hottest topic in market research today. No self-respecting conference is complete without at least a session devoted to research communities. Blending the authentic voice of the consumer with great ROI, online communities are providing a new way for brands and organizations to get in touch with their customers.
Online research communities come in many forms, from closed to open, from short-term to ongoing, from branded to themed,… In most cases research methods are fused to gain rich consumer insights: polls and surveys, forum and chat discussions, besides a broad range of techniques to observe consumers’ online and offline behavior.
We are investing a lot of time and effort in this area. In close collaboration with Stephan Ludwig, the PhD student we sponsor at the University of Maastricht, my colleague Dado and I are constantly optimizing our community research approach in order to provide our clients with fresh insights and to get the maximum out of their research budgets.
What are you most proud of?
I am particularly proud of how we – over the past 2 years – have integrated the power of social media into both our marketing thinking and our way of conducting market(ing) research studies. The latest by developing a whole portfolio of new methods and techniques ranging from ‘Online Discussion Groups’ and ‘Research Communities’ over ‘User-Created Brainstorms’ and ‘Post-its’ to ‘Social Media Netnography’ and ‘Multimedia Ethnography’. It is just great to be part of our FowaR&D Lab team that is responsible for most of the research behind all of this!
What do you want to warn marketers/market researchers about, now and in the future?
The context in which we life has changed drastically over the past 5 years due to the revolution taken place on the web. Today’s consumers are empowered and smarter than ever! They literally have the ability to make or break brands. On the other hand, they are willing to give companies a lot of feedback and they even want to co-create new products and services with them (according to the 2009 edition of InSites’ MC DC). This is an opportunity for smart companies: listen to your consumers, get a dialogue with them, understand the issues they are dealing with and eventually co-create products, advertising and branding campaigns with them!
Secondly, I believe that also research agencies have to change the way they are interacting with people: their research participants. If we keep on doing research like most of us do it today, we will have serious difficulties to find people who are willing to fill out surveys that are too long and contain the same old questions over and over again. We have to connect with our participants, give them enough feedback and respect! Ultimately, we need to make our research an experience they can’t resist.
What has surprised you lately?
Last month, BAQMaR – the Belgian association of researchers were I am steering committee member of – was nominated for an ESOMAR award. It shows that the Belgian research scene is more vibrant than ever and that marketing research can be COOL, both as an industry and a profession!
What did your morning look like today?
I am leaving for a holiday of 3 weeks through the country side of Croatia (J), so I am finishing-up the last bits of some of my projects…
Let’s end with a ‘quote of the day’!
“Beta is a state of mind!”
Looking at the speed of change within our industry this has to be(come) the motto of every market researcher! The biggest changes and challenges are still lying in front of us. The best is yet to come and it is the task of our R&D department to get the most out of it for market research purposes in order to help our clients to connect with their customers in the best possible way.
Contact Tom De Ruyck
E-mail: tom.deruyck@insites.eu / Phone number: (+32) 9 269 14 07
Follow Tom’s updates on Twitter: @tomderuyck

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