There’s been a lot of hype around audio apps recently, and Clubhouse specifically. This week I want to look at the opportunities that Audio Apps present for consumer and market research.
I wrote extensively about Clubhouse in this post “How Does Clubhouse Work?” if you want to get up to speed on what it’s all about. You can also check out this Youtube video if you prefer to watch and listen.
Audio apps essentially allow people from around the world to connect in real time through an audio app interface on your phone. Think talk radio meets podcasts, with the interactivity of social media tossed in to make it interesting. Conversations are live, not recorded, and critically in these over-Zoomed days, do not require you to dress up and look good. You just listen, talk, or both.
Audio apps explode
Indeed the space is heating up beyond Clubhouse with Twitter entering the field with the roll out of “Twitter Spaces”. Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban is behind “Fireside.” Facebook has a version in beta, apparently called “Hotline.” And LinkedIn is also rumored to be incorporating an audio component into their mobile app version, which could get really interesting. According to industry insiders there are as many as 36 social audio apps in the market or about to launch.
eMarketer estimates that 2% of US adults are on Clubhouse. That’s certainly chump change compared to larger more established apps, which according to PEW Research estimate that 69% of US adults are on Facebook. But it’s the exponential growth in such a short time that has caught the eye of trend spotters. In May 2020 Clubhouse had about 1,500 users. By March 2021, the estimated users stand well over 10 million globally.
While most of the focus has been on the crazy uptake and growth, as well as how to carve out a niche and personal brand on the platform, I think and overlooked application might be “How could I use Clubhouse to inform market research?”
Global research at your fingertips
Think about it, Clubhouse right now is like one huge qualitative focus group. The potential for observational research is massive. It extends far beyond monitoring brand mentions, hashtags or sentiments through social media. This give you the ability to listen within context, and most importantly it gives the opportunity to hear the stuff you’re not apt to hear elsewhere – simply because it’s casual conversation, and it is not recorded. The guards are down. Since rooms are hosted, research could be conducted through moderating panels, or hosted focus groups – except you wouldn’t call it that, it would be about leading a conversation and listening to input.
But there’s also great potential in just dropping into rooms and listening, but observing with intent. Since rooms span interest areas from business to hobbies, to music and entertainment, it’s essentially a global petri dish for social research.
Yet I would hazard a guess that few businesses are using it that way. Far too many people are trying to talk and be heard in an effort the build their own personal brand. The quest for social influence is insatiable. Just think about the opportunity of listening with intent!
Consider the sample
People on Clubhouse are customers of many brands. Their conversations reflect what is happening in society right now. Admittedly, you need to consider the sampling involved though. Clubhouse as a platform is by invitation only, and available on iOS currently (with Android set to roll out in May apparently). It also favors those who have the time to be on it – more likely to be self-employed, knowledge workers working remotely, or perhaps those not currently employed. By definition of how it is accessed, they are also more likely to be tech savvy and early adopters around social media and digital in general. These parameters of course will skew the sample of who is on there, but for some brands, that might actually be a good thing, and bring them closer to who their actual customer base is. The cool thing is, Clubhouse attracts conversation is so many diverse areas, that there is likely to be a mini focus group on pretty much anything you could think of, if you are willing to search it out and drop in for a listen!
I’ve been playing with the platform in this way the last couple weeks. It goes counter to how their algorithms work, since they encourage you to follow people with similar interests. So I’ve messed with it intentionally to see what is out there, and it’s been a very interesting study.
But even in areas of genuine interest, like travel for example, which I follow due to my work with the CarryOnQueen.com brand development, it has been interesting to pick up on consumer sentiments. For example there is a huge readiness to travel shared by Americans in general right now, versus the fear of restrictions voiced by others in location such as Europe. Australians appear thankful for their Covid free lifestyle, but there is a sentiment of entrapment emerging. Aussies are used to traveling internationally, and their country appears poised to remained closed for some time yet, likely well into 2022.
How could you put Clubhouse and audio apps, as they emerge in general, into good use? I’d encourage you to consider the crazy possibilities they present for qualitative research.