Rakuten Research Inc, one of Japan’s premiere research companies, will launch a new online market research community (MROC) type service that utilizes social networking services called Social Research, starting on Dec 17.
MROC is an online community that utilizes social networking services, or SNS, for market research purposes. In Japan, market research communities set up by research companies have mostly involved small numbers of consumers (50 to 100) for short periods of time (typically one month). Rakuten Research’s Social Research represents a new market research service that utilizes a community of companies established for a longer duration (from four months onward) and involving a larger number of participants (from 500 to several thousand). In addition, Social Research can also be utilized for wider marketing initiatives.
Specifically, Social Research can help establish an online community consisting of consumers, company staff, and moderators, and then use a wide range of methods including discussions, surveys and live chats to obtain high quality consumer information. Social Research can also be utilized as a marketing platform to gather ideas from consumers for opportunities in product co-development involving companies and consumers, or to organize various events to promote brand loyalty.
With the growing popularity of social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, more companies are focusing greater attention on online customer engagement. These services are now indispensable tools for any company’s marketing and sales promotion activities. These services will make it possible not only to have conversations with dozens to hundreds of people, but also gather feedback over a continual period of time, which was something quite difficult to achieve in offline group interviews. It will also allow consumer engagement with images and video, leading to more in-depth insight into customer needs. Another feature of these services is that meetings can be held anywhere, ensuring a variety of different consumers can take part in research.
In May 2012, Rakuten Research entered into a business alliance with Think Passenger Inc, a United States company and leader in MROC that works with many multinational corporations, including major beverage makers and automakers. Through this business alliance, Rakuten Research retains the exclusive rights to sell Think Passenger’s MROC system which utilizes SNS in Japan. This partnership served as the impetus for Social Research.