We have blogged in the past about engaging specialist users in research: engaging individuals whose lifestyle, usage requirement, or relationship to a category uniquely positions them to better inform research. I’ve always thought of these lead users as most valuable for innovation. But then I saw this article on how insurance provider Aviva has engaged its most influential customers to hone its product offerings AND its ads.
The company created an online community to better conduct quick-turnaround, lower-cost research, and used that opportunity to identify “expert consumers” who are knowledge and influential about the industry and scrub them in more specifically to the research process itself. This process has turned Aviva’s community into a wonderful tool for relationship building and a source of quick and informed opinion on products and communications.
Aviva’s case profile seems to again confirm what many have found over the years: the more you know the source of information, the better that information can be. For example, we’ve talked before about how social media’s anonymity undermines its ability to provide true customer insight. But we have seen companies like Southwest Airlines and NASCAR unleash insights from social media by finding or building communities where they know the participants.
Identifying true lead users can be difficult; it’s hard to find lead users in nature, so defining a screener is imperative. One appliance company we work with found success by leveraging external networks to generate a screener that would reveal truly leading consumers. We have also seen companies like Visa and Charles Schwab engage consumers on a long-term basis through research by creating joint-benefit research projects or creating a shared agenda.
Are you fostering long-term relationships with customers through research projects? Do you see the benefit of identifying and engaging “expert consumers”? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.
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