To know what is going on among consumers, customers or inhabitants - that is what many organisations want. A dedicated online survey panel makes this possible: panel members are interviewed regularly using quantitative questionnaires. There are also communities in which the emphasis is on qualitative techniques, such as forum discussions and diary assignments. Communities, also called MROCs, are often used on behalf of large companies, in which case a dedicated website is built for external participants to log in to. Such large-scale communities, however, are not available to everyone.
A new development consists of structurally contacting a specific target group both quantitatively and qualitatively within a single platform. Panels and communities are often integrated to create an online Research Community. In this research setup, clients are able to engage in a dialogue with their target audience in various ways. An online Research Community can be used for ad hoc as well as continuous projects, short-term or long-term projects, and for small or large groups of respondents. It can also be used for various activities, including forums, chat sessions, online diaries, or for creative assignments or generating ideas/co-creation, if necessary in combination with an online questionnaire. These multi-method options provide added value compared to having a separate research panel and a separate community.
As members of a Research Community are followed over a longer period of time, this yields reliable insights. In addition, participants not only provide ideas and opinions, but also collaborate, which makes them highly involved. Clients have the option of moderating in forum discussions, giving them one-to-one access to their target audience.
For the target audience a Research Community has the advantage of a single login to a digital portal where they can participate in both quantitative and qualitative research. They have the ability to exert an influence, to obtain information on matters in which they are interested, and to interact with other respondents and the client.