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Better & faster insights for long-term business success via the Program community

Program Community

Online research communities support brands in becoming more consumer-centric and closing the relevance gap. Yet, different brands come with different research needs and thus require a different approach, as illustrated by the Flash and Deepdive communities.

In this blogpost, we explore how the Program community caters for the following research need:

“I need a hybrid solution that helps me work towards a long-term goal in a specific marketing domain.”

A Program community combines qualitative and (directional) quantitative research to fuel decision making regarding a specific marketing domain or business objective (i.e., CX, branding & communication, or innovation).

CX program

This type of community is set up around a clear, modular research program. Our Customer Experience (CX) program goes from customer journey mapping, over experience development, to measuring the experience impact (more on this in our bookzine The Customer Journey Revolution). Depending on the internal stakeholders’ needs, relevant modules from this program will be selected for a ‘CX community’.

For Henkel, for example, we first mapped the customer journey with its key moments before tracking the experience via short in-context surveys. This resulted in clear guidelines on how to address consumers’ information needs, which emotions to support, and which channel(s) to use throughout the journey.

Branding & communication program

Our branding & communication research program consists of three modules, going from brand and consumer understanding to proposition development and measuring market impact (more on this thinking and a full program overview in our bookzine Brand Religions). Depending on the specific business challenge, relevant modules from this program will be selected for a ‘branding & communication community’.

For kiwi brand Zespri, for instance, we set up an online community with 320 participants (i.e., 80 participants in 4 markets) to immerse internal stakeholders in consumers’ lives. This helped the Zespri team to learn more about consumers’ (healthy) lifestyle, and in particular their needs and frictions within the fruit category.

Innovation program

Our innovation program is centered around the three key pillars of innovation research, as we describe in our bookzine Innovation Envy: Friction, Passion and Pilot. Friction is all about creating and activating strong consumer insights, Passion is about concept curation, and Pilot focuses on the concept’s go-to-market. This results in a tailored innovation track depending on the project needs.

An example is what we do for the world’s leading brewer, Anheuser-Busch (AB). The brand has a strong commitment to lead future growth and mainly taps into our innovation program’s ‘friction’ and ‘passion’ aspects. For their annual strategic innovation initiative (iWeek), we set up seven online communities, each engaging 50 consumers around different opportunity spaces. This generated a rich set of consumer insights to fuel ideation at the start of the iWeek. During that week, +200 new product ideas were screened, tested and optimized in two waves of consumer feedback.

WHY – Key benefits

The Program community comes with multiple benefits.

  • Convenience & efficiency: it brings convenience to the table, as it caters for all research needs around a strategic goal – from start to finish – via one research platform. This approach is very time- and budget-efficient, in particular for ongoing communities with a limited set-up.
  • Iterative learning: involving consumers in several modules of a program also allows for iterative learning. Especially in an innovation program, it’s vital to build further on initial learnings to refine a concept and go through several rounds of testing, learning and improving before taking a concept into development.
  • Rich insights: this community supports a hybrid approach and provides access to a relevant mix of research activities for each step in the program, which makes the derived insights richer. In our CX program, for example, we use consumer diaries, group discussions and ethnographic exercises to immerse in the customer journey, as well as mobile surveys to validate the journey and prioritize jobs-to-be-done.

HOW – Best practices

When setting up a program community, it is vital to have a good understanding of one’s strategic goal and plan the research approach accordingly, i.e., what research modules will be relevant to include and when they will be tackled. Planning and alignment are key. Furthermore, to get buy-in from the business, it could be relevant to start small, but think big and scale fast. Typically, Program communities are set up for ad hoc research, but rapidly evolve into an ongoing approach once internal stakeholders are convinced of their value.

Another critical point to consider is the consumer profiles that are relevant to involve in each phase of a program (i.e., everyday, leading-edge and creative consumers), as the different modules might require collaborating with a different type of consumer. Think for example about an innovation program where everyday consumers would support a brand in immersing in their daily lives and understanding their needs and frictions, while creative people would fuel ideation, and leading-edge consumers would support the go-to-market optimization.

Curious what the other community types can mean for your brand? Catch up on our previous articles on the Flash and the Deepdive communities, and stay tuned for the Research hub in the coming week!

We’d love to showcase what Insight Communities can do for your brand. So get in touch to request your showcase!

Better Together Vol 4 - Closing the relevance gap

Better Together Vol. 4: Closing the relevance gap

Research communities, online discussions boards, bulletin boards, insight ecosystems… what’s in a name. In this bookzine, we bring clarity by defining four different community types, each linked to a concrete research need, illustrated with best practices. 

Request your download

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