A NEW joint venture between two North East firms is on target to see sales hit £1m in its first year after attracting interest from several national corporate giants.
Newcastle-based market research business Explain has joined forces with Teesside brand agency Better, to launch Better Communities. The Better Communities product is a bespoke private digital community backed up by specialist research software which allows companies with large customer bases to gain feedback and insight from their consumers.
The co-creation and engagement tool has already attracted interest from a number of blue chips from across Europe in several sectors including retail, manufacturing and utilities, and negotiations with a handful of multinational companies continue to progress.
A key target market for the product is large retail empires that may be looking to diversify into new areas and need to gauge opinions about the products and services they are developing.
Meanwhile, the product is also expected to be adopted by utilities firms which often need to research thoroughly into the likely impact of landmark decisions such as future price increases.
The partnership, which was launched earlier this month, is already developing a private community for Scottish Power Energy Networks, with Northumbria Water and a number of other national organisations in the pipeline.
David Shiel, managing director of Explain – which enables organisations to gain essential insight and intelligence on their target market and customers – said: “In the current climate, companies tell us they want better information without increasing budgets so it would seem the timing is right.
“Social media is now well established and such a powerful method of interaction that companies must embrace the opportunity for dialogue that is corporate, not just social.
“Having the confidence to let the consumer openly comment and choose who they want to buy from or use puts the power squarely in their hands and says that the provider wants their business and will take notice of what they say.”
The new system allows brands to discover information over the long term that could directly influence product and service design and marketing strategy and is estimated to help businesses save at least 20% of their research budget each year.
After being recruited into brand insight communities, members will then engage in a two-way exchange of information with the company and fellow members, responding to topics and suggesting topics for future debate.
The online platform also encourages collaboration through one-to-ones, focus groups, polls and questionnaires which are constantly monitored using Explain’s research software.
The system can analyse responses by demographic, geographic location or any single profile variable in real time, giving invaluable data on the likes, dislikes and preferences of customers.
It is likely to create around six jobs this year at Explain’s Tyneside headquarters and Better’s Stokesley office, where the product’s technical development and support will be managed.
Better’s managing director Mark Easby said: “‘Engaging consumers at every level, be that through social media touch points that generate buzz through to private online communities that provide a catalyst for mass collaboration, innovation in product and service design through co-creation is a game changer for brands.”
“Better has been heavily involved in social media from the outset and have long championed its inclusion within our clients’ communication strategies. We’ve seen how the space has been developing and see private online communities as a key tool for brands going forward. The conversation has been online for many years and now we’re harnessing that power within our private communities to drive loyalty, engagement, innovation and co-creation.”
“We are all excited about seeing the fruits of an intensive nine months of development during which both companies shared a considerable investment to make this digital platform a reality. It’s what the North East business community is built upon and we’re proud to be winning national clients and shouting about a product that has been designed, built and privately funded in the region.”
Explain employs 30 people at its offices on Leazes Park Road and in South Gosforth, Newcastle, and provides customer insight for some of the UK’s biggest companies.
Better is an award winning brand agency who work with it’s diverse range of clients to improve the way they talk to their audiences through its brand, design, marketing, social media, web and digital services.