Keeping up with consumers through online communities

COVID-19 has now been around for much longer than any of us would have hoped or expected. Whilst in China the outlook has been optimistic, it has been much more of a mixed picture elsewhere in Asia. In Hong Kong in particular, it is a tale of uncertainty; from the social movement last year to wariness of new COVID waves and new political realities. But most of us have adapted to new ways of working and living. Or as Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: “The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our world.”

Digital adoption has leapt forward several years, changing how we live, work and communicate. In just five months, the use of Microsoft Teams increased by 894%. Meanwhile, 12.2% of new online shoppers are 65 or older. But things will never go back to how they were.

So, brands need to launch initiatives faster, while still involving consumers and making the right decisions. The need for agility is at an all-time high. So, if you are not using online communities, you will fall behind.


Brands must:

  1. ensure insights are relevant and resilient; get an always-on window into consumers’ lives, capturing moments in real-time,
  2. stay fast, agile and flexible; react quickly to emerging trends and evolving business needs, and
  3. go digital and mobile-first; engaging consumers in their natural habitat.

To achieve this, hundreds of brands rely on our proprietary, market-leading community platform, the Square. Developed to help brands become consumer-centric, the Square brings together everything you need to weave the consumer voice into your organization. Here’s how:

  • Engaged members in the Member Portal give you agility. The Square is an easy-to-use and engaging environment for all kinds of consumers. It stimulates them to contribute to your goals.
  • Custom-designed, creative activities give you deeper insights. Activities are designed around your innovation, branding/ communication, or CX/ UX objectives. With 40+ qualitative and quantitative activities, you can observe what people do, understand how they feel, see what they think and make ideas better.
  • Tailored, iterative programs give you flexibility. We can adapt the size and duration of a community to suit your needs. A pop-up community, tailored to qualitative research activities with individual or small member groups (up to 500), typically lasts 2 to 4 weeks. An ongoing community typically lasts for one year and is a cost-efficient approach for larger member groups (500 to 1,000+) with a mix of research activities.

Community case: re-engaging Gen Z consumers in Hong Kong for Nike

Nike Sportswear wanted to re-engage with young consumers in Hong Kong to build a localized strategy and reignite the local sneaker culture. The brand needed to gain an in-depth understanding of what defines Gen Z: their beliefs, values and attitudes. The effects of the HK protest movement, in addition to the practical challenges of COVID-19, made it harder than ever to get young people in Hong Kong to open up in face-to-face settings.

Re-engaging Gen Z consumers in Hong Kong for Nike

Knowing that this generation is living a big part of their lives online and even more so in a pandemic reality, it soon became clear that traditional, offline approaches such as focus groups were off the table. Instead, we invited 30 fashionistas and sneakerheads aged 18-24 to share their lives and views on fashion in a three-week online community on our Square platform. The engagement of consumers through the community activities was overwhelming, as we gathered hundreds of rich media consumer posts. Feeling comfortable in this online environment, the community members shared photos and videos of their outfit of the day, showed their shoes and clothes collections, and talked about their favorite Instagram influencers. And they also opened up about who they are and who they want to be.

The project showed how to engage young people based on their evolving state of mind, using local online community activities, events and forums based on their interests. This revealed how one can also use local relatable influencers to share stories about their personal interests and journey.

Penny Ho, Category Brand Manager at Nike HK said:

“Our first partnership with InSites Consulting was a great success. The team showed understanding of our category and consumer right from the beginning. They listened to our business problems to come up with a plan that worked well with our strategic framework. Team Nike was delighted by the high-quality recruitment in the community… participants were very engaged and brought a wealth of insights. We were very impressed by the storytelling approach as well, to bring the findings to life with actionable recommendations. So we are confident the research will be helpful to our long-term planning and to the day-to-day operations.”

What the Square can do for you

In the last year, 23 of our clients in Asia, from HSBC to L’Oréal to Okada, successfully collaborated with consumers on the Square. But this is just a handful, in comparison with the hundreds of brands around the world that also rely on our proprietary platform to get close to consumers. The Square’s agility, versatility and flexibility help them stay ahead of shifting needs and go deeper with their insights, while moving at the speed of their business.

Get in touch to book your personalized demo of our community platform. Or discover what the Square can do for you!

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