What Is an Insight Community?

Tags: Customer Experience, Insights, Insights Communities, Online Communities

I built my first insight community more than 20 years ago while working in insights and strategy for a GE business and I have championed them ever since.  If you have no or limited knowledge of insight communities, I hope this basic primer gets you started!

What Is An Insights Community? The Basics

An insight community is a valuable research tool that virtually brings together a select group of your customers, prospects, or key stakeholders, allowing you to regularly engage with them and gather valuable feedback and deep insights.  With an insight community you can better understand your audience, identify their needs and preferences, and ultimately make more informed decisions to help drive your business forward. 

Key Features of an Insight Community

  • Specifically Targeted Members: Insight communities are typically created with a carefully chosen group of participants who are genuinely interested in your brand, products, services, or the category you play in. This ensures you receive relevant insights from an engaged, specific audience.
  • Ongoing Insights: Unlike traditional market research methods, insight communities allow you to affordably reach out to members regularly and maintain an ongoing conversation with them.  Rather than the snapshots in time from ad hoc approaches, insight communities allow you to identify and act on the evolving needs of your customers and even identify trends in real time.
  • A Variety of Research Tools: Insight communities typically provide access to various tools and techniques to gather feedback, from surveys and polls to open discussions and a variety of other qualitative research approaches. This flexibility allows you to tailor your research methods to your specific objectives and gather a wide range of insights.

Typical Benefits of an Insight Community

  • Speed: With no need to recruit new customers or prospects from scratch for each project, you can launch projects and get to the needed key insights quickly.  Community members are typically very engaged, leading to faster responses to research requests.
  • Deep Dives & Iteration:  Insight communities allow you to dig deep into customer needs and issues.  They provide the ability to test and learn through multiple iterations of an idea or solution in ways traditional methods cannot match.
  • Cost Savings:  Communities are typically a great value when compared to traditional ad hoc approaches, especially if you are conducting research regularly.
  • Truly Customer-Centric:  Insight Communities allow you to continuously involve your customers in the decision-making process.  Communities can show members you care about them and are actively and regularly involving them in key business decisions.
  • Early Warning: With ongoing member engagement and dialogue, insight communities can help you identify issues early and find proactive solutions before it’s too late. 
  • Better Relationships:  While insight communities are intended primarily for gathering insights, they often have a nice secondary benefit. Because they are generally long-term (12 months or more) over time members build relationships with other members and the brand.  As these relationships and trust build, members are more likely to be brand advocates and a source of insights you can trust.
  • Better Quality/Less Fraud:  Poor quality responses and fraud can be significant issues with traditional research approaches.  Because members are carefully vetted and easier to monitor, insight communities minimize these issues.


While insight communities are flexible and can be used for many applications, they do not work for all situations.  Typically, communities are not appropriate for assessing brand awareness or other metrics related to brand affinity (members often know the sponsor of the community) and the startup costs for a community make them impractical if you only need to do a few research projects over a 12-month period. And, while it can be accomplished in some circumstances, communities are typically not a great choice if you need to conduct high volumes of very large, representative sample quantitative research.

Want to Know More?

This short piece covers the basics, but if you would like to know more and understand if an insight community may be a fit for your business, please let me know. I promise a no-pressure conversation and if a KLC community isn’t a fit, I’ll help you find the right partner for your needs.  You can reach me at [email protected] or (706) 905-0625.