What Are the Benefits of Online Communities?

We live in a world where online communities are ubiquitous, with almost every global brand using some form of it to uncover insight that leads to business change. But how exactly do they add value, and what are the key benefits of them?

C Space

July 10, 2018

It’s hard to find a C-suite perspective that doesn’t point to the need for customer centricity; to hardwire the customer into the heart of business decision making. The businesses that are getting this right are hardwiring customers in, tapping into their creativity and resourcefulness, working in collaboration to shape their thinking. When we launched our first online insight community 20 years ago, we had this in mind.

We believe companies should see online communities not just as a tool or a new way of doing existing types of research – but as an opportunity to change the ways they engage; to create something more authentic, more useful and more impactful. An opportunity to bring the customer, and customer insight, inside a business in an unprecedented way.

For our Customer Inside report, we recently asked 135 client side practitioners, from insight, innovation and brand backgrounds to describe the advantages of having an online community. Here are the five benefits they were keen to highlight:

1) Cost-effective global collaboration

“Our online community has helped to champion global collaboration across markets and business divisions, and provided cost savings over offline qualitative methods”. – Senior Insight Manager, Pharmaceutical

2) Agile 24/7 access to customers

“Expectations can and will change; our community is essential to maintaining direct dialogue with our guests and customers to help our growth”. – Guest Experience Intelligence, Travel

“The primary benefit of using an online community is having ongoing access to an agency who can get in touch with our consumer base 24/7”. – Senior Consumer Planning Manager, Consumer Packaged Goods

3) Speed

Speed for us has been a particular benefit. We’ve estimated that our community has enabled us to go up to 80% quicker, which in a tremendously fast moving business like ours is critical.” – Insight Manager, Technology

4) Deep, qualitative insight

“Our community allows us to have a two-way dialogue with consumers and get a deeper understanding that takes time to develop. We’ve changed how we ask ‘rational’ quantitative questions to allow for this reflection”. – Senior Strategic Insight Manager, Financial Services

5) Customer centric products and services

“We’ve made a shift from obsessing about what our competitors are doing to deeply understanding our customer. In a world that changes so rapidly, staying centered on our customers needs, wants and unarticulated desires guides us as we innovate. We’re bringing new technologies, design, and service experiences that delight our guests and differentiate our brands”. – VP of Insight Strategy and Innovation, Travel


This is only a small excerpt of a wider best practice guide to online communities. If you want to know how else you can ensure insight leads to business change, download the full version of Customer Inside here.

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