In our Why Chirp? series, we’ll explore some of the qualitative, quantitative, and innovation methodologies we offer and how multi-phase, mixed-methodology research forwards our clients’ objectives. This month, we’re talking online communities with our qualitative researchers.
What is an Online Community?
Think of an online community like a digital diary of sorts in which consumers are asked to respond to questions or prompts so they can share their opinions, perceptions, or feelings about a pre-determined topic. Online communities are crafted to be more interactive, which may mean showing the consumer images or videos they are asked to review, asking them to sort items, or having them make a chart or drawing and upload it. Consumers typically complete these activities over a span of several days and can complete them at any point in their day.
What makes online communities different from other qualitative methodologies?
With online communities, consumers can respond to questions and prompts on their own time, and they can take as much time as they need to really consider their response. The output from a community is highly visual and can express consumer sentiment in a richer, multidimensional way that a written question and typed response just can’t. Depending on the objective of the research, consumers will either complete activities independently or be given the opportunity to read and respond to the other participants’ work. Moderators can also ask follow-up questions, probe interesting responses and get feedback from clients as the community comes together.
Can you give me an example?
Sure! Consumers may be asked to upload images of the products they currently have in their pantry and tell us why they are purchasing these products, how often, and where they go to purchase them, or may be asked to upload a video showing us one of their favorite beauty products, how they use it, and why they would recommend it. Because consumers have fun completing them, they are often compelling and highly insightful responses.
What are the unique challenges?
Unlike a focus group in which the discussion is happening all at once in real time, consumers complete activities when it’s convenient for them, so online community responses are not always immediate and may be spread out across the length of the community. And because activities are crafted specifically to elicit a more creative output, findings from each activity can be somewhat abstract and “squiggly” initially. Our researchers always take care to analyze the findings as a whole to determine actionable insights and avoid reading too deeply into any one participant’s response or experience, taking all responses into account to determine the broader findings.
What can clients expect from the process?
They should expect to discuss key research objectives that will be translated into an activity guide – similar to a discussion guide, but outlining the activities and tasks consumers will complete over a series of days. Clients will also have access to a virtual backroom in which they will be able to view responses in real time and leave comments and probes that cannot be seen by consumers. After the community is fielded, a report will be created that includes insights and recommendations along with examples of the creative output from consumers.
Why choose Chirp?
Chirp has extensive experience building online communities and tailoring activities to unique research objectives. This wealth of experience allows us to draw on all the functions and features online communities have to offer. Working as a partner, Chirp is able to walk clients through the process of an online community with ease and understanding, helping clients learn how to easily review responses. Most importantly, our qualitative analysts understand how specific activities can be used to elicit meaningful responses and outputs to craft strategic insights and actionable takeaways.