The Association for Qualitative Research
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Market Research Online Communities

Market Research Online Communities (MROCs) typically consists of a closed network of respondents taking part in a series of conversations and structured exercises around a given topic on an online community platform that has been custom-designed for research purposes. The community is centred on a series of discussion topics or themes that follow much the same format as any other online discussion thread.

Unlike Bulletin Board or online focus group discussions MROCs tend to take place over a much longer period of time — usually months, rather than days or weeks. They also allow respondents to spontaneously contribute their own content on a relevant topic, whether in the form of discussions threads, blog entries, video journals or other multimedia content. Members are encouraged to interact with other participants as much as possible through sharing custom profiles, status updates and commenting on the submissions of others.

MROCs are well-suited to gathering ad-hoc ‘quick dip’ insights from the market at relatively short notice through straw polls and the introduction of questions on a particular discussion topic.

Using this approach, more in-depth and reflective insight can be gathered compared to shorter-term qualitative research techniques. participants can be gradually guided through more complex areas of discussion because conversations take place over the course of many weeks or months.

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