Community Panels for research -- a dynamic place to be!

Charles Pearson
LDN - 06 Mar 2015
Charles Pearson
Community Panels for research -- a dynamic place to be!

I have been working in the online panel business since 2000 when in the US and soon after in the UK, online panels -- both access and proprietary (i.e., client specific ones) panels came into being. Panels built specifically for one client have experienced a lot of change, at the very least the various names used to refer to them! Early on, they were referred to as "custom" or "proprietary" panels. Later, they were referred to as "customer advisory panels" if they contained direct customers, or "MROCs" if used for online qualitative research primarily.

More recently, and at Verve, they are referred to as "Community Panels", as this name best describes the combination of having the feel, functionality and intimacy of a community, yet with the size to obtain robust quantitative results as needed. Most likely at some point, the term we use to refer to these particular panels which enable companies to obtain faster, more continuous, and deeper insights will evolve further especially because what we are able to do with them is expanding at a more rapid pace than ever before!

One recent example at Verve is the addition of iBeacon technology to our Community Panel app, enabling us to track Community Panel members as they progress through our client's stores which are outfitted with the iBeacon devices. This capability opens up a world of research opportunities, as we can then launch surveys via our app which are associated with a particular path taken in-store (in the same way the retailer can launch marketing offers based on where a customer goes in-store). Without a partnership between the Community Panel supplier and the retailer, combined with the right technology, this capability would not be possible.

Further, with the right supplier who can handle and be trusted with behavioural data, Community Panels also make it possible to obtain a complete 360 degree view (or what the industry in the 1990's called "Single Source"). Verve has recently been selected by a top 10 U.S. retailer, and our ability to integrate and utilise for research purposes the combination of behavioural and survey data was key to our winning their business.

Although Community Panels in various forms and under different names have been around for 15 years, there has never been a more exciting time to be a specialist in this part of our industry! The technology that suppliers and consumers use is changing faster than ever before. These changes, combined with the substantially increased importance for businesses to properly look after existing customers and therefore to get closer to them with any means possible, is making Community Panels one of the fastest growing and dynamic segments in the market research industry. It's a dynamic place to be!

I am interested in your thoughts on this topic, please comment here or contact me directly at

Also, for more information regarding how a Community Panel can work for your company, or if you are interested in joining our team at Verve -- The specialist in Community Panels for research, please contact me at or our head of team Ana Garcia at