What is a Market Research Online Community (MROC)?

You’ve probably found this page because you were wondering; ‘What is a Market Research Online Community?’. Or maybe you already have an idea about what it is, and you just want to learn more or get advice on how to get started. You’re in the right place!

What is a Market Research Online Community?

A Market Research Online Community, or MROC, is a relatively new consumer research tool where qualitative research is combined with online qualitative research. A Market Research Community is often called an Insights Community and is best compared to an online focus group. We’ve found through ThinkNow Research, that Forrester Research was amongst the first to form a definition: A Market Research Online Community is a group of captive interactive people online joined together by a common interest, which is systematically harvested for qualitative market research purposes.

So, as a provider of Community Platform Software, we’ve seen lots of MROC’s coming and going. We  distinguish 3 types:

Short term communities

Firstly, if you need answers quickly, a Short-term community can be set up. A short-term online community usually runs between 3 and 7 days and holds a few members.  Up to about 50. We often see that members are asked to return to the community daily. They’ll keep track of a journal, or take part in discussions. Because there’s such a small amount of data, it’s easy for the researcher to check the quality of the participation, and reward members with gift certificates or monetary rewards.

Pop-up / On-Off communities

Secondly, when you often have questions you would like to ask your target audience, but either not enough questions for an ongoing community, or not enough budget (yet) for a continuous community, a ‘Pop-up’ or ‘On-Off‘ community is perfect. You can build a community as if it were a continuous research community, but close it when there are no assignments. Members can be notified by newsletters as new assignments are available. The On-Off communities usually have some more members. Usually between 50 and 250.

Continuous Online Community

Thirdly, do you have research questions all the time? Then the Continuous community is the way to go! Within a continuous community, there should be plenty of things to do for a member. They need to see new content every day, in order to keep them motivated. But no worries! Members can provide new content as well. It might even give you input on subjects to investigate further. The Continuous online research communities usually have a larger member base, anywhere between 200 – 5000 is normal. But remember, The Sky Is The Limit. We’ve seen communities with member bases up to 50K!

MROC – Source: http://nusaresearch.com

Who’s using MROC’s?

If you have no experience at all with doing research in an online community, you might want to join forces and work with someone who has the expertise.
Logically, we know these people. If you’re interested in learning about how they use online communities, here’s a list of go to agencies:

Blauw Research (Europe)
Ipsos (Global)
GfK (Global)
Bastion Latitude (AUS)

If you’re looking for an agency with a particular expertise? Just let us know because we might be able to hook you up with the right partner.


So, to get back to the question ‘What is a Market Research Online Community?’ We think Forrester Research did a good job in setting the definition. However, throughout time, we think that Online communities, and MROCs amongst that, have developed. Not only have Online Communities in general split up into different solutions, but also the MROC’s have been developing. Strategies have grown out to separate online community research methods.

Want to learn more about online communities, or would you like to talk to one of our Client Success Managers about which community strategy to choose? Let us know!



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