Dec 112012
 

One of the questions I get asked quite often is whether or not research communities, such as MROCs and Community Panels, are possible inside the rules of market research? The answer is caveated, it depends on which community and which country’s research rules. In the post below I will set out my layman’s (i.e. it could be wrong) view of where communities sit in terms of the rules.

Why communities might NOT be market research?
There are three main areas of concern:
  1. Many communities use client based incentives, e.g. shop vouchers, air miles, telephone minutes etc. This tends to be against societies’ guidelines as they (and some legislators) feel that this is either distorting the market or a form of sales promotion. Brands are keen to use these sorts of incentives because community members tend to prefer them and they increase the bonding of the community members and the community.
  2. If the community is intensive, for example a long term, qualitative/ideation community, the community members tend to become advocates for the brand. The view of societies’ tends to be that this is market distorting and can be seen as a form of marketing. Brands are keen on this element of communities because it helps develop the brands word of mouth.
  3. If community members use their own names, or their own photos, their anonymity can be compromised. The anonymity is further compromised if the brand is involved in running the community themselves.
The choices for agencies
In essence, and under most societies’ guidelines, research agencies have two choices.
  1. Try to fit communities into the existing framework. For example, don’t use client products or services for incentives, use larger communities and panel management to minimise the impact on the respondents (for example using a community panel rather than an MROC), and insist that members do not use their real names and images. This option is easier in a market where other agencies choose the same option.
  2. Don’t call communities market research. Most societies’ allow market research companies to do things that are not market research, provided they do not describe them as market research. They often talk about using market research methods for non-research purposes. In Europe this is a common route, particularly in the UK. Within this framework, researchers are still bound to act honourably, e.g. respecting respondents, using appropriate techniques, etc – but avoiding saying things like ‘research conducted under the ESOMAR rules’.

There is of course a third option, one that is actually quite common. Many agencies seem to operate their communities utilising all three of the problem areas, but still describe it as market research, still flaunt their abidance with societies’ rules, in blissful ignorance of what the rules are.

IP?
One other question that comes up fairly often is ‘who owns the ideas generated by the community?’ The answer, if you have written your terms and conditions sensibly, is the brand. Not the members

Nov 292012
 
Click here to read in Japanese – 日本語 Picture of Hong Kong

Most market researchers are familiar with the Rogers Adoption Curve, which divides the adoption of a successful new technology in to Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.

In a typical version of the curve, the proportions tend to be:

  • Innovators 2.5%
  • Early Adopters 13.5%
  • Early majority 34%
  • And the slower two categories make up 50%.

However, in Japan, in market research and perhaps beyond, I think the proportions in the Rogers Adoption Curve need re-visiting. Data presented by Mr Hagihara (author of ‘Next Generation Market Research’) at a meeting of JMRX in Tokyo this week, showing the adoption of CATI in the 80s and 90s, suggests that Japan was slow to innovate in market research. More recently the data presented by Mr Hagihara show that Japan was very slow to start to adopt online surveys. However, by 2011 Japan had the highest percentage of online research in the World. In Japan 40% of research in 2011, by value, was conducted online, according to JMRA and ESOMAR.

Talking with leading opinion formers in Tokyo this week, I formed the opinion that the Adoption Curve has a different shape in Japan. The Innovators are quite rare everywhere and this is particularly true in Japan. A key difference appears to be that there are fewer Early Adopters in Japan, much less than the 13.5% in the classic curve.

However, and in contrast, Japan seems to have more people in the Early Majority. The picture appears to be that initially Japanese market research suppliers and buyers are more conservative than their counterparts in USA and Europe. But, once a technique reaches a tipping point, Japanese companies seem to move faster enabling them to catch-up and over-take more traditional countries, as they have done with online surveys. For me the interesting question will be whether the same picture is true of research communities. These have been slower to take off in Japan, but there are signs that a tipping point is being reached, which might partly explain why almost 300 people turned up at three events in Tokyo this week to hear me speak about the future of research and role of communities.


Below is a translation of this article into Japanese by Mr. Ryota Sano, Chief Executive Officer, TALKEYE INC, ESOMAR Representative for JAPAN

日本のマーケットリサーチにおける異なった普及カーブ

マーケットリサーチャーの皆さんはロジャースの普及カーブ(Rogers Adoption Curve)、成功する新しい技術の普及の段階を「イノベーター」、「アーリーアドプター」、「アーリーマジョリティ」、「レイトマジョリティ」および「ラガード」に分類したもの、をよくご存じだと思う。一般的なカーブでは、それらの割合はそれぞれ、

  • イノベーター 2.5%
  • アーリーアドプター 13.5%
  • アーリーマジョリティ 34%
  • 普及の遅い二つのカテゴリ(レイトマジョリティおよびラガード ) 50%
とされている。

しかしながら日本では、マーケットリサーチ、そしておそらくそれ以外の分野においても、ロジャースの普及カーブの割合について検討し直さなければならないと考えている。今週東京で開催されたJMRXのミーティングで、萩原氏(「次世代マーケティングリサーチ」の著者)が提示したデータによると、1980,90年代におけるCATI(Computer Assisted Telephone Interview)の普及度は、日本のマーケットリサーチ産業がイノベーションを受け入れるスピードが遅かったという傾向を示唆している。さらに、萩原氏提供のより最近のデータは日本のオンラインサーベイ普及の立ち上がりが非常に遅かったという事実を示している。しかし、2011年までに、日本は世界の中でもっともオンライン調査の比率が高い国になった。JMRAおよびESOMARによると、2011年における日本の調査売上高の40%はオンライン調査によるものである。

今週東京で当地のオピニオンリーダー達と話しをして、私は日本において普及カーブは異なった形状をしているのではないかと考えるようになった。イノベーターが非常に少ないことはどこでも一緒であるが、日本においてはそれが顕著である。最も重要な違いは、日本ではアーリーアドプターの割合が少ない、つまり古典的なカーブにおける13.5%よりもずっと少ないことにある。

しかしながら、対照的に、日本におけるアーリーマジョリティの割合が多いようにみえる。構図としては、最初のうち日本のマーケットリサーチサプライヤおよびバイヤーは米国や欧州のそれらよりも保守的である。しかし一度ある手法が転換点に到達すると、日本の会社はより早く動き、より伝統的な国々をキャッチアップして追い越してしまうよう(オンラインサーベイでそれが起こったように)。個人的には、同じ構図がオンラインコミュニティーにおいても当てはまるのかどうかに興味がある。日本における(オンラインコミュニティの)立ち上がりは遅いが、転換点が近づいているという予兆はある。なぜそれがわかるかって?今週東京で開催された三つのイベントにのべ約300人もの聴衆がつめかけ、リサーチの未来およびコミュニティの役割についての私の講演を熱心に聴いてくれたのである。

Nov 272012
 
Click here to read in Japanese – 日本語

Yesterday in Tokyo I attended two events (one run by the JMA and one by JMRX – sponsored by GMO Research) and a client meeting, and one specific question arose at all three. The background to the question lies in Japan’s experience with MROCs (in particularly short-term, qualitative research communities). Although some companies have been very successful, several others have not, and some clients are beginning to be worried about MROCs.

So, the question I was asked three times was “How do you create a good MROC in Japan?” By the time I had spoken to three audiences I had refined my answer down to three clear points:

  1. Good recruitment. A short-term, qualitative MROC (e.g. one month, 60 people) needs to be based on the right people. These people need to be informed about what they will be expected to do, they need to understand how to access the MROC, they need to be engaged with the topic (they might love the topic, hate the topic, be curious about the topic, have recently started using it, or perhaps have given it as a gift – but they need to be engaged).
  2. Good moderation is essential. Conversations do not just happen, they are the result of good introductions, good questions, good probing, and interesting tasks. Too many clients want to get onto the serious questions too quickly. But, just like in a focus group, trust and understanding has to be built first. The moderator should agree with the client a clear community plan, showing how the research needs will be met during the project.
  3. Good analysis. Some research agencies simply tell the client what the people in the MROC said – this is not helpful, the client can read that themselves. Listing out and counting what was said in an MROC is not analysis. Analysis looks at a) what did respondents mean, and b) what should the client do.

I was very pleased to see at the meetings copies of my book (The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research) in Japanese (translated by GMO Research). Hopefully, the meetings we are having here and the book will help make all of the Japanese MROCs as good as the best ones.

It was very helpful to be accompanied to all of my meetings by Shigeru Kishikawa, the head of the newly opened Vision Critical Japan office and a great expert in MROCs in Japan.

Of course, the answer to the question how to run a good MROC in Japan, is also true in London, New York, Singapore, Helsinki, and everywhere else.

For more information on new research techniques, people can also check out the online conference happening next week, The Festival of NewMR.


Below is a translation of this article into Japanese by Mr. Ryota Sano, Chief Executive Officer, TALKEYE INC, ESOMAR Representative for JAPAN

日本でMROCを成功させるためには?

昨日、私は東京で、二つのイベント(一つは日本マーケティング協会主催、もう一つはGMOリサーチのスポンサーによるJMRX)と、クライアントとのミーティングに出席した。どのミーティングでもある特定の質問が出たことは興味深い。その質問の背景は、日本におけるMROCの経験(特に、短期間かつ定性的リサーチコミュニティー)に求められる。何社かは(MROCで)大きな成功を収めているものの、他の会社はそうとは言い難く、その結果、いくつかのクライアントはMROCに対して不安を抱き始めている。
もうおわかりだろう。いずれの会議でも異口同音に受けた質問は、「どうやったら日本でよいMROCを実施できますか?」であった。三つの会議で聴衆に向かって回答をすることにより、その質問に対する私なりの答えを三つのポイントに収斂させることができた。
1.リクルートが大事 短期間かつ定性的MROC(例えば、1ヶ月、60人規模)は「正しい」対象者から構成されている必要がある。対象者は「彼、彼女らが何をすることを期待されているか」をよく聞かされている必要があり、MROCへのアクセス方法を理解している必要があり、テーマに関与している(engaged)必要がある(彼・彼女らはその話題が好きかもしれないし、嫌いかもしれないし、興味を持っているかもしれないし、その商品・サービスを最近使い始めたかもしれないし、プレゼントとして送ったかもしれないが、いずれにしても彼・彼女らはテーマと結びついていなければならない)。
2.うまいモデレーションが必須 会話は自然には始まらない。会話はよい導入、よい質問、よいプロ−ビング、面白い課題の産物である。多くのクライアントは小難しい質問に始めから入りたがるが、グループインタビューと同様に、まずお互いの信頼関係と理解を得ることから始めなければならない。モデレータは、リサーチプロジェクトにおいてなにが知りたいのかを確認しながら、明確なコミュニティ運営プランについて事前にクライアントと同意しておくべきである。
3.価値ある分析 リサーチ会社の中には、単純にMROCで対象者が何を発言したか、だけを報告する会社もあるようだ。しかしこれではクライアントの助けにはならない。なぜなら単なる発言録ならクライアントも読めるからである。MROCでの発言された単語をリスト化して、それを数えるのは分析とは言えない。分析とは、イ)対象者の発言が意味するところを捉え、ロ)クライアントがどうすべきなのかを考察することである。
イベントで私の本(The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research)の日本語版(GMO社翻訳)を見ることができたのはたいへんうれしいことであった。東京でのミーティングおよび私の本が、日本のすべてのMROCが世界の最高水準に近づく手助けになることを願ってやまない。
新規開設されたVision Critical東京オフィス代表であり、日本のMROCのエキスパートである岸川茂氏にすべてのミーティングに同行いただいたことはたいへん心強かった。
もちろん、日本でよいMROCを運営する心得は、ロンドンでも、ニューヨークでも、シンガポールでも、ヘルシンキその他世界のどこでも通用するものである。 新しいリサーチ手法に関する情報がもっと欲しい方は、来週開かれるオンライン会議The Festival of NewMRもチェックしてみて欲しい。

Nov 142012
 

When Brad Bortner, of Forrester, coined the term MROC (Market Research Online Community) in 2009, he defined it as a qualitative tool. This definition has been used widely to define qualitative communities, in contrast to online access panels (large, quant, and minimal community), and in contrast to community panels (large, qual and quant, with community) (Visit VCU to read more about Community Panels).

However, the difference between access panels, community panels, and MROCs may soon be a redundant distinction. One of the reasons that things are changing is that the platforms for conducting research via communities are changing. In the early days of using communities for research, there were essentially two types of platforms, discussion-based systems and panel based systems.

Discussion-based systems, such as forums and bulletin-boards, tended to have good discussion tools, but they had few survey options and few community management tools. This made them ideal for small communities, e.g. 30 to 300, where the overhead of looking after queries, incentives, sampling etc were very simple. Companies that opted for this type of platform tended to stay with a qualitative type of research, making the term MROC, synonymous with both the type of research and the type of software used.

Panel-based systems, such as community panels, started by adapting the panel management and survey software from panels and added a community element. In the early days of community panels, the discussion element was much less developed, partly because of where the software came from and partly because the big money was coming from companies wanting to do surveys.

However, the distinction between an MROC and a community panel has never been entirely clear, with some people using the term MROC for any community that is branded, private, and used solely for market research. This lack of clarity may about to be resolved by the term MROC being used by most people in this more generalised way.

As with the original separation between the term MROC and community panel, the reason for the change relates to the underlying software. The new software that is beginning to emerge is capable of running a vast range of communities. It can support qual research communities, it can support qual & quant research communities, it can support consultative communities, crowdsourcing communities, and probably much more. At the moment, community panels use community panel software and MROCs tend to use MROC software. In the future, I believe, the clients and the researchers will not need to know what type of software is powering their research community.

I suspect that the term MROC (because it is short, punchy, and ambiguous) will be used to refer to any community that is private, branded, and used solely or largely for market research. Of course, each company is likely to develop its own in-house term for their preferred type of MROC, for example insight community, creation community, etc. This is good branding for the company, but they will find it useful to locate their version within the wider range of research communities, i.e. MROCs.

What are your thoughts?