Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are an exciting market, and as they enter their prime spending years, more and more brands want to attract them.

Understanding them, though, can be a challenge.

We have found that traditional research methods aren’t always the most effective ways of engaging with these tech nimble and social media savvy consumers. Instead, new research methods, including online and mobile qualitative research forums, can be more effective.

A typical online forum is undertaken over the course of a week long period, with a group of participants asked questions and set interactive tasks. These can explore both general behaviour and more focused, brand or competitor specific questions. Forums can be accessed through an app downloaded to a respondent’s smart phone or tablet, with updates and responses uploaded at any time of day.

This offers a brand the ability to talk to consumers in the course of their daily lives. Setting tasks such as video diaries, store, social media page or website visits, and sending out samples for respondents to test and review can provide a more in-depth view than can be achieved in a 90-minute focus group. It also makes it easier for consumers to participate, with interactions happening at the times most convenient to them. For brands targeting younger or teenage customers, it can be easier to reach these audiences online, and recruitment can be undertaken through Facebook, providing access to a large and engaged group of customers, who are more than ready to share their views.

Further benefits include the opportunity to undertake research across a number of international markets, at a lower cost and within shorter time scales than can be achieved by face-to-face qualitative research. Recent Pragma projects have covered markets including the US and Germany, and we have moderated or directly monitored forum progress to ensure a high quality of research, whilst negating the need for an on the ground presence. The quick turnaround enabled through instant download of transcripts, and the ability to tailor and adapt the discussion as understanding evolves, also makes online research a valuable tool for due diligence processes where timelines are more constrained.

Conducting this type of research does pose new challenges. For example, the time and effort required to analyse the large volume of responses submitted by consumers, including videos, recordings and images.

One thing is clear, as younger consumers become more important to brands, the way we engage with them, has to be re-evaluated.

Charlotte Lamnea