Intercontinental Intelligence and a Community of Motorists

Conducting research for one of the largest automakers in the world seems fairly straight forward. But global-minded companies can tend to divide and conquer in their quest for knowledge. In 2006, GM’s corporate research team set out to both amplify and consolidate their online consumer intelligence initiatives across multiple countries.

Partnering with Gongos to develop a dynamic insights platform called i°Communities, the GM team’s vision was to simultaneously ‘field studies’ in multiple markets, while at the same time reaping cost-efficiencies, customization and longitudinal learnings.

Building on the success of two-decade-long relationship, Gongos’ innovation and project teams huddled with GM’s global market research team for months to plan the environment. How would we apportion members by country and vehicle brand? How would we communicate in different languages and dialects? And perhaps as important, how would we structure the learnings so that they could be intelligible and actionable?

Volumes of survey responses and consumer chatter make its way into the community daily. Topics from car features, gas mileage, alternative propulsion, safety, and popular culture swell in and out of the site as swiftly as a current of queries washes in from community analysts.

Spin-off communities were formed as hospitable portals to welcome, and incite, thousands of drivers from several countries around the globe. Weekly meetings with the GM headquarters-based team ensure an ongoing blueprint that serves to both guide and ingrain stakeholders in the learnings.

Time and time again, community initiatives have gone beyond product-specific studies to drive future research strategy and processes. In fact, the community has nearly become part standard operating procedure for the automaker’s research teams. The low-risk, yet high-stakes nature of the community has enabled it to reach critical mass in GM’s ongoing quest for consumer knowledge.

Having gained traction interdepartmentally, GM’s insight community also acts as a catalyst for cohesion among multiple groups. Engineering, marketing, R&D, brand design and public relations have all had skin in the game. Not so unlike other organizations its size, the stakes are high at GM. And this platform has proven to be one that has grown in its influence and return over time.