Safeguarding connectivity and impact in uncertain times

With travel being restricted, events being postponed and the general public taking precautionary measures, there is no room for business as usual. The current reality is putting governments, businesses and people under pressure. Whilst these unusual times call for unusual measures, the need to stay connected is ever present.

As individuals we turn to our community networks in times of uncertainty, because we crave connection, communication and information. And when the physical contact with others is limited, as it is today, we naturally turn to our online communities, our WhatsApp/WeChat groups and social platforms to keep in touch.

Similarly brands need to ‘pause’ and actively reach out and connect with consumers to understand the new consumer reality.

Online research communities, as a methodology, originate from a shift from offline to online communication, facilitated by new technologies. Online platforms allow people and brands to stay connected anytime and anywhere. The need for virtual connectedness is now more important than ever. This is also true for brands, that need to keep the connection in place with stakeholders and consumers globally. These uncertain times demand that brands be transparent, communicate actively and listen to their audiences. Online insight communities (aka MROC or Market Research Online Communities) – such as those we run on our versatile proprietary Square platform – can help brands, consumers, and ultimately all people, to stay connected, especially when physical distances are greater than desired.

Global connectivity through online research communities

Boundless in time and space

In times when colleagues and consumers must stay put, online insight communities allow brands and people in every corner of the world to keep the connection in place. The limitations of traditional research should not hold brands back from connecting, learning and collaborating with consumers. Regardless of whether you are taking precautionary measures from your office or home, device-agnostic communities allow you to connect with anyone, anytime and anywhere.

Ongoing and always on

The current pace of change requires brands to enter a mode of agile and fast decision making. The always-on character of online insight communities allows brands to establish a structural and ongoing connection with consumers. Communities serve as an important ongoing touchpoint, as they give brands the tools to actively listen and flexibly connect in order to gain an understanding of changing consumer needs and frictions. The ongoing character does not only provide brands with a finger on the pulse, it also allows them to explore the potential solution space, by generating ideas and iteratively shaping these in close collaboration with consumers. Moreover, campaigns, solutions and touchpoints can be evaluated and adapted to better tailor to changing environments.

Immersive and multi-sensorial

Whilst being physically distant, the multitude of ethnographic activities and tools available through an online insight community platform allows brands to become truly immersed in the consumer reality. Consumers can share their stories and experiences using text, pictures and videos, allowing brands to hear, feel and see what the consumers want and need. The versatile nature of online communities gives brands a holistic view of the consumer context.

Unusual times call for unusual measures; while we close our doors, we need to open our minds to other ways of collaboration. More than ever, the boundaries of traditional research are visible. The current reality calls for ongoing connectivity, spanning time and space. Since their inception fifteen years ago, online communities have evolved to survive the ever-increasing pace of change in the world and provide that ongoing connectivity between people and brands.

Today, as we witness global change on a daily basis, we must all learn to adapt and collaborate to create a new reality. To do so, brands must ‘pause‘ and stay close to your consumers, care and listen to adapt to the current reality.

To help brands navigate through these fickle times, we’ve created a dedicated COVID-19 online community approach. Intrigued? Get in touch and we’d be happy to start the conversation and listen to your challenges!

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Tom De Ruyck
Thoughtleader Future of Research
Managing Partner

Contact Tom