A new study from Forrester has found that a third of market researchers are using or planning to use online communities in the next 12 months – but a similar number have never even heard of them.
Forrester’s study, written by Tamara Barber, found growing experimentation with online communities, but warned that most buyers need service, support and encouragement, not just software.
Forrester surveyed 78 researchers and interviewed nine vendor companies, including Communispace, Vision Critical, Vovici, Globalpark and MarketTools.
“Researchers want to partner with trusted providers that can bring a flexible offering, methodological expertise, a superior service to the table,” writes Barber. “Given the number of new entrants into the MROC vendor space, expect to see more choices in service model options, better integration of community research with quantitative projects, and focus on insights from clientside market researchers.”
With more community vendors appearing, and existing agencies introducing communities to their offering, Barber said that buyers have an increasing array of services to choose from, including services shared between clients and services integrated with quantitative research services. Vendors with a ‘self service’ offering are likely to find themselves selling to larger reserach agencies looking to provide the service element themselves and sell the package on to end clients.
Barber also highlighted a degree of flexibility around what is and is not included in online community services, and a focus from clients on “insight and actionable output”.