Instant Research Groups & Online Communities: How to Use Each Effectively

Online qualitative is often grouped together because we’re accessing consumers online, and that means quick-turn research. But are online Communities and online Instant Research Groups really one and the same? Based on feedback from clients who use both, it turns out the two approaches are quite different!

How do researchers determine the best methodology for their study? As new technologies develop in qualitative research, it’s important to know how to use each to best meet your specific research needs.  Let’s cover a few different ways communities and instant research groups should be used separately, and how they can work together.

Communities 101

Communities are used to connect to a pre-screened group of consumers, who can be accessed weekly within an online forum over a year or more. The work crosses a range of topics, from exploration to refinement. It’s common for brands to bring in consumers who are loyal to their products or services to learn how they can expand their relationship. Because they are pre-selected, a brand team can re-engage the same audience multiple times, and respondents get to know the innovations and types of questions. This can be valuable because it allows iteration with the same consumers over a long period of time.

However some challenges include “waiting in line” to launch a study, missing the planned window because stimulus isn’t ready in time, or the opposite – scrambling for topics to keep the respondents engaged on a slow insights week. In addition, because the target groups are defined up front, some targets are not included in the Community.  Also, communities are generally specific to an individual country.

Instant Research Groups 101

Instant Research Groups (IRGs) similarly capture quick consumer feedback with specific audiences quickly. This is about where the similarities end! Instant Research Group audiences are just that – instant – so the audience is a fresh group of custom targeted respondents. This may include brand loyalists, brand rejecters, or a group identified by specific custom attitudes and behaviors. Respondents commit to studies from 1 – 5 days, and discuss a series of questions, perform tasks, and can upload images each day. The result is a fresh set of eyes on every topic.

Instand Research Groups engage respondents from global panels across 12MM consumers worldwide, so there are no parameters around the number of studies that can launch at any one time. Brands can also launch across multiple countries or target consumers simultaneously, and expect to receive comprehensive global executive summaries. Instant Research Groups support the full range of product life cycle stages from exploration to launch execution, assessed by new respondents, and wrapped up with a qualitative report, complete with key findings, recommendations, and relevant consumer verbatims.

When to Use Pre-Screened Online Communities

  • When conducting Longitudinal studies that require iteration with the same consumers over a period of multiple weeks or longer
  • When there is an opening in the Community calendar that fits with your research timing 
  • Building loyalist relationship

When to Use Instant Research Groups

  • When you need new, fresh consumer insights for exploration or refinement
  • When you want to reach both brand loyalists and non-users
  • Target audiences not in the Community – eg. Specific attitude/behavior, competitive users, new audiences
  • Conducting multi-country research

When to Complement Communities With Instant Research Groups

  • When Developing a product with loyalists, and refine the platforms, ideas, or concepts with a fresh audience
  • Exploring needs and benefits initially within a Community, then assess global nuances of the hot topics with Instant Research Groups
  • Understanding a PR issue with Instant Research Groups, and work though messaging to resonate with brand loyals

So there you have it! Communities and Instant Research Groups are both critical to satisfy research needs. Communities and IRGs both provide quick consumer reads to propel your business forward, in their own unique ways. Used together or separately, they can provide invaluable insights and ensure you’re maximizing your research resources.

To learn more about Instant Research Groups and how they can be used with your existing community or separately, download our complimentary eBook today!