Second Life: Bring on the Consumer Research Data

Just Who Are Second Life Users?

Quick Post: Consumer Research on Second Life

One of my questions regarding much of the movement towards establishing a presence (stores) and campaigns in Second Life is the lack of any clear user data (See Second Life Marketing Rush: Why?). Indeed, there has even been a debate on the actual population and active userbase of Second Life, much less other informations like demographics, psychographics, purchase behavior et cetera.

Thankfully this is changing. According to Business Communications of Second Life:

The Social Research Foundation has officially launched the First Opinions Panel in Second Life. First Opinions is a consumer research panel formed in Second Life to provide Fortune 500 companies with resident insight and feedback on new products, services and policies. The panel is owned by SRF, but it is being exclusively licensed to and managed by MarketTools, a joint venture of P&G and General Mills.

MarketTools is a leading online consumer research service used by nearly all Fortune 500 companies and many leading universities such as Harvard, Columbia and John Hopkins. They manage over 60 online communities for Microsoft, and have over 2 million people on real life panels who have access to the ears of industry leaders.

First Opinions is not the only market research company in Second Life. For example, Market Truths and Reperes both established Second Life offices several months ago. Market Truths recently released a study focused on the retail fashion industry in SL.

Market research in Second Life is a bit of a complicated landscape to navigate. There are some rather vocal groups who are against commercial research in SL, and these include not only the SL public, but educators and researchers, as well. The success of these companies is dependant on how well they address three central issues related to their work in SL: cross-cultural (SL/RL) learning and internal training; privacy protection; and standards of best practices. More to come on how these can be accomplished. Stay tuned.

Link: “Second Life Market Research Panel Licensed to P&G
While this is welcome news and I’m excited on any new research being done, the fact that (as some have reported) there are only about +200,000 active users on Second Life makes me wonder if the numbers are there to justify this much effort? Although, I’m pretty sure Second Life can achieve over 1 million active users given time.




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