Focus groups. It used to be when a brand needed to gather public sentiment, they’d round up a group of demographically diverse consumers behind a two-way mirror to study their reactions, analyze their politics, or guide open discussions.

Today social media is that focus group.

Social platforms have replaced the room and expanded its confines, providing value where there were once limitations—limitations of geography, availability, authenticity and cost. Social has elevated market research to be a more open, relevant dialogue between brands and consumers.

Focus groups still have a job to do, but these days it’s the landscape of organic customer research that draws in the most progressive businesses. And for efficiency—well who doesn’t want to engage with customers while simultaneously gathering intelligence for future decisions?

Openly communicating with today’s consumers means more than a bit of virtual engagement on social—it’s customer service, it’s education, it’s relationship building.

And those relationships don’t have to end at point-of-sale. After all, loyal consumers and unencumbered feedback is the lifeblood of any brand.

Taka Takeuchi, Chief Digital Officer at Casio UK, elaborates for us the business value of open communication.