Technology has helped the collaborative economy to grow and market research companies to leverage the information available. With the creation of social media, the internet of things and big data, analysis tools and analysts now play a big role in market research and business development. This has created new positions within research companies and the need for managers with analytic experience to lead them.
Transparency is Key
With knowledge comes responsibility. Everyone involved in the collaborative economy demands transparency in order to participate the following criteria must be met:
- Consumers should be willing to help businesses, as long as companies reveal how the information is used.
- Businesses purchase research from marketers, as long as the marketers are upfront about those who take part in the collection process.
- Market research companies want to know how clients use their research.
Transparency is the new competitive advantage. Companies that are willing to be more transparent in business practices will reap the benefits of customer participation in market research and receive social validation.
Social validation accentuates the customer service experience when customers help other customers on social media. Companies benefit from social customer care because it helps relieve the strain on help center personnel. Businesses become traffic controllers and monitors as they help steer customers to sites where a specific support area is discussed. This ensures the level of support and communication remains professional. Market research companies can tap into social customer care with integrated tools that flag repetitive issues to create a software upgrade or potential new product.
When research highlights customer needs and problems, marketing agencies can help companies create specific solutions. These solutions can include helping customers find businesses that have experts who can working with an organization’s software. Bitly created their “experts program” to help match software experts with customer-specific needs.
When a company wants to take advantage of the collaborative economy they may decide to purchase a collaborative business or invest in a company that leverages collaboration (similar to Crowd Companies). That is what GE did when it invested in Quirky. Quirky has a community where participants vote on the best inventions created by members of the site. The winners are able to have their invention produced and sold in leading retail outlets. GE’s investment in Quirky allows the new company to continue its search for innovative inventions from people who do not have the money or reputation to pitch to large retailers on their own.
Zipcar also has an innovative approach to leasing leveraged mobile technology and local communities. Rental cars are placed in strategic locations in a neighborhood. When someone wants to rent a car, he can go online to find a vehicle available and pay for it. When the person is done, he returns the vehicle to its location. This way, several different people will use the same car within the same day. By purchasing Zipcar, Avis is now able to expand its market and gain an understanding on how customers use rental vehicles in large cities.
GE and Avis are just two of many large companies that are leveraging the advantages of the collaborative economy. Crowd Companies was founded by 50 large companies to help educate businesses about the benefits of collaboration and connect them with startups in the collaborative community. These businesses include:
- Wells Fargo
Consumers want to participate in market research so that they can impact the services and offerings available. Market research companies can analyze and interpret the data available. Businesses like Bitly, Avis and GE can utilize the collaborative economy to gain information and better serve customers. When stakeholders take an active role in business development, companies can improve their services and obtain real-time feedback to adjust their customer service policies and improve social validation.
Originally published Oct 14, 2014, updated Aug 12, 2020