Online Research Community vs. Focus Groups

Market research

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Who knew how much of our time we would be spending online today?. Things we used to do in the real world are now done on the world wide web. Online shops are taking business from brick-and-morter stores. Stream entertainment from the comfort of your home and order food for delivery through an app without even having to call! Want your business to have an international meeting? Just Skype or FaceTime!

The market research industry has also evolved because of this. Almost any target group is likely to be spending more time online and on their mobile devices than ever before! Forward-thinking researchers understand this behavioral trend and are using it to their advantage. Whether you are experienced with online research communities or are just getting started, here are a few things you must know to get the most out of your online community.

Group Size

Not all activities benefit from larger groups. While ideation challenges and collaborative co-creation tasks may get more creative juices flowing when they involve more participants, other activities like focus groups can suffer when they are too big (making it difficult to focus conversations and discussions) or too small (hindering adequate insights and perspectives). Remember that an optimal size for a focus group is often 8-10 people. By taking this online you will be able to give every participant a voice, without losing focus on the conversation.

Accommodating All Personalities

Real-life discussions tend to be dominated by more extroverted people and you may want to make sure that your research is inclusive to all personality types. “Big talkers” can give you great data, but if you only hear from extroverts, then your data is inherently skewed. An online community provides a less intimidating space where quieter personalities can share their voices as well!

Anytime, anywhere

Timezones and physical locations no longer have to limit your participant pool when you are working with an online research community. When community activities are online, members can participate whenever they can and wherever they are. Go ahead… start that international community that you’ve always wanted!


When your research happens online, you open the door for mobile experiences through responsive designs and mobile apps as well as in-home access from personal computers. Imagine the honest and meaningful reactions you can gather when you can ask participants questions about a visit to, say, a new event space, while they are at an event? Or perhaps you want to understand how people feel about the layout of a new store?

Another possibility with online communities is ‘in-home-user-testing’ (IHUT) research. At CMNTY, we see our clients using our platform for IHUTs more and more. See how products perform within homes of target audiences. Engage with them at all stages of their interaction with your products!