Blogs and market research

One of the things I’ve always found fascinating in Dina’s blog is the way she uses ethnographic methods in her market research (what can I say, I have eclectic interests) and in her thinking about how blogs might generate new kinds of data that will prove important to marketers. For so many kinds of markets, blogs can provide a window into what customers and non-customers are passionate about. The Kryptonite lock problems being one of the more recent examples. The relevance of this direct access to “voice” is quickly obvious to anyone who participates in blogging. The question then becomes why marketing organizations have been so slow to pick up on the potential value of blogs.

In the marketing research context, blogs are a disruptive technology. Instead of having to generate data by way of surveys or focus groups with whatever artifacts the process introduces, blogs provide direct visibility into customers. Instead of having to connect potentially artificial samples back to the actual market, now you have to filter real market behavior, interpret it, and make sense of it. That presents two challenges to market research functions. First, market research staff have to develop new skills. For that, they would do well to pay attention to Dina. Second, management of market research needs to spend some quality thinking time about what to do with access to this new kind of market data.

The opportunity that blogs introduce into the marketing research equation is to create the opportunity to identify and run multiple micro-experiments in the market. Those that succeed get the resources to scale, those that fail generate some useful data and are quickly shut down. There are challenges, of course, especially given how quickly ideas spread in a connected world, but that should be offset by the speed with which experiments can be identified and run. Worth thinking about.