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  • Understanding and mobilizing the consumer 2.0 via communities

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    For approximately two years at Repères we have been engaged in the process of updating the tools used in market research. Our objective is to look for better ways of accompanying our clients, in a context in which society is undergoing major changes: traditional tools are less and less able to provide an accurate picture of reality today, whereas new approaches, previously inconceivable for technical and budgetary reasons, now provide access to a wealth of new and highly relevant information.

    Among these new approaches, we are investing especially in all the “collaborative” techniques which represent a change of position within our profession. The citizen consumer is moving from the status of respondent to that of participant.

    Hence, on the occasion of the last SEMO trade show, Emilie Labidoire, in charge of Repères Communautés, and I presented a series of collaborative approaches aimed at the following:

    . mobilising consumers and involving them in designing the offer:
    - co-designing, namely by using the Second Life platform,
    - a concept test under the form of a collaborative blog, with 60 to 80 respondents alternating during a fortnight between collective exchanges and individual questionnaires
    - a prototype test via the Home Use Blog, previously mentioned in this blog

    . but also at gaining a better understanding of consumers via the creation of Virtual Communities of Interests, making it possible for a company to get a better understanding of its target and to continuously exchange with this target in a real spirit of partnership.

    In addition to this new position as a “participant”, clearly in line with that of the consumer-citizen today (Cf. the book, “Génération participation” by Thierry Maillet), the strong point of these approaches is that they are based on new time frames: We are no longer working with 15-minute quantitative questionnaires or 3-hour focus groups, but with a collaborative experience over one or two weeks (collaborative concept test, Home Use Blog) or even several months (Communities), thus providing a definite opportunity for ideas to ripen and for the experience to be integrated. Another important aspect is the advantage of asynchronous communication limiting leading effects (each participant integrates the opinions of the others, but with a "distance" which enables him or her to evaluate these opinions and to preserve his or her individuality) and also makes it possible for the respondent to express himself/herself in a very personal way.

    At Repères, we are continuing to develop and experiment with these collaborative methods which hold great promise, naturally for general consumer issues but also in the field of BtoB (for example: the development of a co-design protocol with certain key customers, or the creation and moderation of communities of retailers…)

    In short, we are fortunate to be working in a fascinating profession offering a host of new prospects!