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Explain Market Research launches new research solution to deliver innovation

Originally developed in 2010, Explain’s innovative online community platform has undergone a substantial upgrade to better meet the needs of clients and end users.

Organisations in a range of sectors, including utilities, healthcare and manufacturing, have chosen our platform as it provides a unique and extremely cost-effective method of research and engagement to suit any budget.

An online community in the simplest form is a form of social and digital engagement, sometimes referred to as an online panel; they offer a bespoke, members-only digital space in which to directly engage ‘in the moment’ with a desired audience – for example, customers, stakeholders, or internal staff. Communities are currently being used to monitor perceptions of customer service, develop new products, and engage with vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ consumer groups.

Along with the build of each community, Explain provide an ongoing management and moderation service which sees users encouraged to actively participate in conversation, providing a qualitative two way conversation. Views and opinions are gathered through discussion threads, polls and online surveys, with fresh and relevant content uploaded frequently to ensure high levels of engagement, providing a 360 degree view from customers.

Our online communities range in scale and scope, with each community individually designed to deliver the needs of clients. We currently host and manage online communities ranging from bespoke projects with 50 members, running for a limited time to deliver immediate insights, to long term strategic models with thousands of members, that will run over a number of years as an engagement tool.

The recently launched Version 3 of the platform offers enhanced design and media capabilities, along with greater usability to improve user experience for members.

Kim Davis, Explain Market Research’s Managing Director commented “Our newest release has stimulated interest from those who see research as an ongoing investment in product and service refinement. Any industry that is serious about stakeholder engagement should consider an online community, as an extremely cost-effective way to carry out ongoing research.  It breaks down barriers such as location, accessibility and timing. We are seeing a significant shift towards this type of research, particularly in regulatory environments, to demonstrate consistent engagement, and also in manufacturing for product innovation and development.”

Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Explain has provided full-service market research solutions to a range of organisations for over two decades, with specialist knowledge and expertise in the utilities, healthcare and financial services sectors. Delivering innovative insights is at the forefront of our culture. Our online communities are part of a wider suite of innovative solutions to research and engagement, which also includes mobile app surveys, collecting ‘in the moment’ data and insights.

With a shift towards ongoing and digital research, to demonstrate consistent engagement, we continue to work with clients to find solutions to their needs, and are seeing a significant increase in the uptake of online communities as a research tool.

Take a look at our infographic below and get in touch to understand how your organisation will benefit from an online community.

communities infographic


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Knowing, segmenting and talking to your audience in their language, improves engagement

Information overload increases by the day, so how do organisations become smarter in order to engage with their stakeholders such as customers, prospective customers, users of a public service, employees…

Email boxes are now crammed packed with notifications of the latest offers, on-demand TV allows viewers to skip past ad breaks, we have internet streamed music with preference built play lists with no ad interruptions, there are text message notifications to overcome the issue of more and more people not opening their mail, we have internet adverts that follow you around online …. those who are responsible for engagement have a difficult task at hand to understand which channels and what messages are right to yield the desired results.

A one size fits all approach didn’t work as effectively as a targeted communication campaign 10 years ago, so now with all of the rapid and major changes in how we communicate, this approach has very little impact.

Segmentation is more important than ever and is applied and used by large retailers extremely effectively due to most transactions taking  place online and data collected as part of the process at point of sales –  this is known as ‘big data’.

It’s not all about demographics either.   We can’t assume all those 65 plus have the same preferences e.g. silver surfers Vs. traditionalists. There is huge diversity within demographic groups now and without behavioural segmentation to give a true understanding of what makes your audience tick, your communication will likely fall on deaf ears.

Getting our hands on this data can be extremely difficult.  If your services aren’t all about online purchasing and point of sales, this makes it even trickier.  It’s not uncommon for organisations particularly within the utility, public sector, healthcare, housing and education sectors to have collated large databases of various stakeholders including customers, but have great difficulty in segmenting it to communicate more effectively in order to improve engagement.

Market research is fundamental in understanding key groups and to start the process of an effective segmentation strategy  based on behaviours and preferences, allowing us to talk the same language with the right benefit messages using the right channels to our intended audience.

Our team work with a range of organisations across sectors, particularly where segmentation isn’t as straight forward. Our mix of research, marketing and data specialists will build a programme of research and segmentation strategies to help your business become more effective and smarter in engaging with stakeholders.

We have produced an infographic for anyone thinking about how they can better understand their audience:

Segmentation infographic


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The fair exchange

The utopian concept of a seamless collaboration between creators and consumers is considered by many companies to be beyond their reach.

This is largely because the process of gaining the credible insights that are needed in order to develop the strongest iteration of a product or service is daunting. However, recent studies have revealed that consumers are more willing than ever to collaborate with a brand and, crucially, they’re in a better position to do so than ever before.

Research company Insites Consulting recently published data to demonstrate the status of the social media landscape. In it, they conclude “80-90% of consumers want to be involved in co-creation”. The only thing they ask in return is to be told how their feedback has been used.

In our view, the purpose of market research is to create the ‘actionable insights’ that are derived from gathering useful information and spending time, effort and money discerning what customers want.
However, despite the best intentions of business owners, there has long been an invisible barrier between ‘seller’ and ‘purchaser’ making it difficult to retrieve reliable results. Finding the right people, asking the right questions and motivating those involved have typically stood in the way.

Today, it is so much easier for consumers to communicate directly with brands. Indeed, according to the Insites report “1.5 billion people use social media sites… 51% of Internet users have a smartphone and most have data stored on it”. Given all this, it seems that there is a huge opportunity for organic interactions between creators and consumers. All we need to do is identify how these conversations can be facilitated and translated into more collaborative relationships, for example through online communities.

Online communities present the perfect platform for co-creation by providing a private online space through which a company can constantly engage in real-time monitoring of brand opinions and perceptions. The technology also allows a two-way conversation between customer and brand to become a vital component for ensuring all products and services are shaped around the consumers’ needs.
The saying goes that the ‘customer is always right’ but now they are always right there.

Your customers want more from you and their ability to tell you that is right at their fingertips. They want better products and services and they’re ready to tell you just what that means to them.

Or at least, you should hope they are, because they might hold the key to your future success.
For the full report, please click here.