What is the difference between market research, focus groups, social media comments, and open innovation?
They all share the same goal – inform the company about what customers want. But they all use different methods, have different costs, and give different results. Most importantly, they are not in competition with each other, but they work together to complete the picture of what customers want.
Market research uses polls and interviews, and other similar methods which elicit very specific structured feedback from customers. Questions are designed by the company to be easily quantified in hope that more customers offer more input which is easy to process. Market research can be expensive and biased, but needs little change in the company.
Selected customers are asked for a more elaborate opinion. These are very controlled situations which can provide good insight but again in a very controlled way. Focus groups can be very expensive and biased, and they also need almost no change in the company.
Social media comments
They are free and abundant, but are very unstructured, hard to understand, and very biased. Most extreme comments can be in a minority but can still pull the company in a wrong direction. Social media comments do not need any change in the company.
Low cost and with minimum bias because of its focus on practical improvements, but it needs some changes in the company – which is actually good. All other three are external reactions which have very controlled effect on the company while open innovation builds a more transparent relationship with customers.
It is best to use all four together because they are not exclusive, but if you must chose one we suggest open innovation because of the low cost (thanks to openinnovation.me) and its direct and immediate positive impact on products.