Measuring public awareness of and attitudes towards a little understood and complex topic via an online community

Business situation

Our client was concerned about the proliferation of counterfeit versions of some of their products being widely available for purchase on the internet.  As this was a topic that was of major concern to our client, but may not have been thought about much by the public, the novel (at the time) approach of an online community was used.  This allowed the subject to be explored in a qualitative way over a period of weeks.

How we helped

We were engaged to measure awareness of counterfeit medicines and attitudes towards them and their potential dangers.  Additionally, we investigated the relevance of an overseas developed awareness campaign.  The research comprised two components:

  1. a quantitative online survey of the general population to measure awareness and attitudes. Relevant respondents were also recruited for phase (2)
  2. a Market Research Online Community (MROC) was set up with an appropriate sub-set of the part (1) sample. This was used to delve more deeply into attitudes and gather information via a blog feature as to any online materials stumbled across during the study. It was also used to test reactions to a TVC and other elements of a public awareness campaign


  • A benchmark of awareness of and attitudes towards counterfeit medicines was established.
  • Constructive feedback on the overseas consumer campaign was obtained along with more detailed insights into attitudes towards counterfeit medicines.
  • As members answered the questions posed to the community it was possible to see which aspects had the most impact. They started conversations amongst themselves and probed one another’s answers, yielding additional insight over those that would likely have been obtained in a much faster paced focus group.

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