Getting ‘Up Close and Digital’ to achieve customer centricity

The shift to digital research

Over the last 18 months, we’ve had to reimagine the way we interact with other people, whether that’s celebrating birthdays with relatives overseas, collaborating with our colleagues on the other side of the city, or even interacting with our local bank or retailer down the road. Where we would normally interact face to face with these people, we’ve had to shift our conversations online with little warning.

Within big brand organizations, marketing and insights professionals have also made this leap. Customer expectations have evolved, fuelled not only by physical restrictions, but also by a greater awareness of health, wealth, and sustainability. It’s only natural to fear such rapid and vast change, in a world where customer interaction and loyalty are closely linked to ‘the human touch’. Despite this, many brands have successfully shifted their customer engagement and insight touchpoints online, revealing that digital research can in fact facilitate deeper engagement, and garner even richer insights.


Getting ‘up close and digital’ through an online insight community

Over the last four months, we’ve shared four inspiring stories of brands in Asia that have got ‘Up Close and Digital’ with customers by utilizing the latest technology – with an online insight community at the core – to generate customer insights. Before we recap those stories, let’s address the elephant in the room: what is an online insight community?

An online insight community is a platform where people connect to participate in brand research. It is supervised by a dedicated moderator and has flexible parameters such as duration and focus. While online insight communities originally served one ‘purpose’, either qualitative exploration or quantitative validation, today many platforms facilitate both types of research, which is called hybrid. As such, we can offer a 360-degree view on consumer needs, frictions and aspirations.


Choosing the right online insight community for your research needs

So, back to our inspiring stories. By identifying the research needs of a brand, we can recommend the right community type for each. Here is what our digital event series ‘Up Close and Digital’ uncovered about some of our trusted brand partners:

A Flash community for Standard Chartered Bank

The Flash community is best used for fast decision making. By focusing on quick and agile testing in a Flash community, Standard Chartered Bank tackled very specific business problems with a small number of participants. During the pandemic, we tested the Bank’s Here for Good campaign via 31 video interviews over six days, to ensure the brand message was aligned with customer expectations. The resulting campaign helped the bank to stand out as ‘forward-looking’.

A Deepdive community for Nestlé

The Deepdive community can be used to develop consumer-centric products and communications. We set up a one-month Deepdive community with 200 participants for Nestlé Taiwan. Using qualitative and ethnographic methods, the community helped the marketing team to explore and understand dairy drinkers and home coffee drinkers. The insights were shared in a workshop and used to guide the brand to find its market positioning and future brand opportunities.

Please get in touch with for access.

A Program community for Manulife

The Program community can be used to combine qualitative and quantitative research to fuel decision making regarding a specific business objective. Manulife identified two areas where it could make a difference to customers during the pandemic: (1) building customer resilience, and (2) rebuilding trust. Using multiple activities in a Program community, Manulife got closer to customers to better understand their journeys. By gaining trust through the community, the brand generated deeper insight into customer needs, and developed flexible solutions from this understanding.

A Program community for HSBC

The Program community can also be used to fuel decision making regarding a specific marketing domain. For HSBC, this domain was proposition development. Using a Program community, HSBC developed a set of personas that articulated the money mindsets of two key segments. Combined with Design Thinking workshops, insights were used to guide ideation and proposition development.

A Research hub for Standard Chartered Bank

The Research hub is a versatile solution that supports all research needs on one platform, i.e., it is multi-method and multi-project. Using a Research hub of 1,200+ clients in seven markets, StanChart is able to develop stronger client propositions, better engage with their clients, and generate faster client insights, all at once! The Research hub has helped each market gain rapid access to a client base to facilitate completely unique projects, from understanding international banking among mainland China clients, to decoding the language of wealth in Hong Kong and Singapore.

We hope that these cases inspire you to get up close and digital with your own customers! Of course, this digital event series shows only the tip of the iceberg of our expertise in online insight communities. With over twenty years’ experience in digital research, we’re happy to advise on the right community type for your needs.


We’d love to showcase what Insight Communities can do for your brand. So get in touch to request your showcase!

Better Together Vol 4 - Closing the relevance gap

Better Together Vol. 4: Closing the relevance gap

Research communities, online discussions boards, bulletin boards, insight ecosystems… what’s in a name. In this bookzine, we bring clarity by defining four different community types, each linked to a concrete research need, illustrated with best practices. 

Request your download

You might also be interested in

The ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of Consumer Connect

Written by Sarah Van Oerle

Consumer connect expert and Managing Partner Tom De Ruyck shares his take on organizing successful ‘consumer connect’ programs.

The Research Hub

Build your consumer-centricity lighthouse with the Research Hub

Written by Angie Deceuninck

Different brands come with different research needs, requiring the set-up of a different type of online insight community. In this blogpost, we explore the Research hub a versatile capability that addresses all your research needs (i.e., multi-method, multi-project) on one platform.

The science of the What and the Why

The Science of the What and the Why

Written by Graeme Lawrence

A fireside conversation with Zoë Ruffels, Global Head Consumer and Business Insights & Analytics at GSK Consumer Healthcare on how she and her team make an impact on this global consumer healthcare company.