Twenty years of defining ‘what’s next’ in the online community category

We built the tools that defined a category

At C Space, we like to think we know a thing or two about online communities…

We’re the pioneers. When we set out, we defined the Market Research Online Community (MROC) category – and we’ve spent more than two decades setting the pace, reinventing the tools and pushing the boundaries.

Over twenty years, these MROC’s have gone from unproven experiment to accepted mainstay. In that time, our clients and partners have seen an evolution: from just a new channel for existing types of research, to a living tool that creates opportunities to change the types of conversations brands can have with their customers, every day. Based on stronger relationships, the conversations that happen in these online communities are more authentic, more honest and ultimately more useful and more impactful. At its best, the online community creates a powerful opportunity to being the customer, and customer insight, inside a business in an unprecedented way.

60% of the world’s biggest brands utilize some form of online community, as a critical insight resource.

2017 Q3-Q4 GRIT Report

Our proprietary Catalyst platform includes more than 100 research tools, to help uncover deeper human truths.

We’ve engaged over 500,000 community members in 20 languages, across more than 100 countries. Last year we collected over 96,000 unique contributions from our members – as written responses, video uploads and photographic moments. Today, we’re running over 270 online communities and more than 85% of our community ecosystems operate in more than one language and more than one market.

The Five Key Benefits of Online Communities:

Cost Effective Global Collaboration

“Our online community has helped champion global collaboration across markets and business divisions, and provided cost-savings over offline qualitative methods”

Senior Insight Manager, Glaxo Smith Kline

Deeper Qualitative Insight

“It’s not a focus group where you speak to people once. You could speak to them over several days – and go back over several weeks or months. You are getting a considered answer and multiple points of input rather than two hours on a Thursday night”

Senior Insight Director, Orange

Nimble 24/7 Access to Customers

“The primary benefit of using an online community for me is having ongoing access to an agency who can get in touch with our customer base 24/7”

Senior Consumer Planning Manager, Diageo

“Expectations can and will change; our community is essential to maintaining direct dialogue with our customer, to help our growth”

Guest Experience Director, Starwood Hotels§


“Speed for us has been a particular benefit. We’ve estimated that our community has enabled us to field research and generate results 80% faster – which in a fast moving business like ours, is critical”

Insight Director, Top 5 Tech Brand

Customer-Centric Product and Service Development

“In our online community, we can co-create with engaged and savvy consumers, which in turn can inform trends and product development”

Insight Manager, Leading Beauty Brand

C Space leverages over 200 recruiting partnerships to find your target audience.  And we’re focused on the highest quality participants, not those who are easiest to find.

We know how important it is to ensure community participants represent a broad range of human experiences and we have a wealth of experience leveraging traditional and non-traditional sources to reach diverse and specific audiences.

At C Space, we intentionally recruit a diverse community base – to make sure our clients can feel confident that our findings and recommendations are most representative. We understand that diversity goes beyond race and ethnicity – and work with a range of partners to ensure we are truly representative across gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, geographies, age abilities and more. 

Our customer communities exist beyond a technology platform…

We take what’s relevant to customers and use data to ensure its relevant to your business

We combine our rich and deep qualitative insights with advanced quantitative data & analytics capabilities, to make sure our insights are statistically valid and concepts and ideas can scale. Our Data & Analytics teams give you the confidence thar the consumer needs we identify represent a widespread opportunity for your business – so you can feel confident making the investment decisions behind your next move.

Our communities aren’t limited to our technology platform…

We understand the importance of face to face experiences. That’s why we have dedicated teams who specialize in face to face insight, innovation and proposition development methodologies. These teams extend our thinking and our reach beyond the online community platform – and provide ways for our clients to experience immersive ‘real world’ activities with our members.

We design large scale co-creation events which bring customer, employees and experts together to develop products, services and experiences. They are highly facilitated, dynamic and create – and as they involve all key stakeholders at the outset, the final recommendations are adopted and implemented by clients faster.

A community is only as powerful as the action it inspires

Our culture and our approach is built around creating impact for our clients. Anyone can create insight – but insight without change isn’t valuable. It doesn’t get seen, doesn’t get heard, and doesn’t get acted upon. We know that landing an insight, so that it creates genuine business change, is equally as important as coming up with it in the first place. It’s why we bring creative storytelling capabilities to every aspect of our work.

By bringing the customer into the organization in disruptive and interactive ways, we allow clients to experience our insights, first hand. This creates a deeper understanding of the needs behind and new positioning, identity and experience – driving greater buy in and accelerating adoption.

Revised and Updated for 2022

Customer Inside

A buyer’s guide to online insight communities and how to make the most of them

The online community category is still young and its constantly disrupting itself. Unprecedented growth leads to an explosion of new terminology and technologies – innovative tools and emerging methodologies appear almost every day. Whether you’re an experienced user, or a newcomer, navigating the current context can prove challenging. What technology? What method? What audience? What types of research? 

With this in mind, we’ve updated Customer Inside, our practitioners guide to online communities.

This report was informed by three separate pieces of original research:

  1. 85x interviews with senior insight leaders from different sectors, around the world – conducted over the course of five years.
  2. 2x global surveys, collecting the views and perspectives of more than 200x insight practitioners and their experiences of using online communities, every day.
  3. Regular Client Connection co-creation workshops, with over 75x client practitioners.

You might be interested in:

Market Segmentation in Online Consumer Communities: Does it Matter?

The Rules of Community Engagement: A Study of the Motivations for Participation in Online Communities

The Collaborative Advantage

21st Century Market Research