Case Study:

The Cider Bar

Discover our incredible journey helping our client reinvent one of the UK’s core cider brands with a highly successful three-day market research online community.


A bottle of cider being poured over an apple to represent the benefits of online communities in market research
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The Client

A marketing & communications agency working with a well-known UK cider brand

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The Objective

To gain insights from regular drinkers and non-drinkers of the cider brand to inform the design of a new advertising campaign

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The Methodology

Market Research Online Community 

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The Duration

Three days – approximately 30min/day

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The Incentive

£65 for taking part

-plus 4 x £25 prizes available for respondents who offered the most creative ideas! 

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Our Participants

24 participants, split into two groups of regular drinkers and non-drinkers of the cider brand


We loved this one! An opportunity to deep dive with our client and get really involved. 

Following several weeks of phone consultations, our client came to us with a truly exciting challenge – a research project that would enable them to re-invent their end client’s popular UK cider brand marketing campaign.  

Read on to discover how we went above and beyond and blew our clients away with our specialist recruitment expertise and advice, innovative task guidance, high-quality participant screening, end-to-end support and much, much more, all while taking advantage of the incredible benefits of online communities in market research... 

Who was our client? 

A successful marketing and communications agency. 

What was the end goal? 

To understand and gain insights from regular drinkers and non-drinkers of a popular UK-based cider brand in order to design a new advertising campaign that would stand out from the crowd.  

Who were the participants?

Group 1

- 18-28 years old with a mix of males to females.

Non-drinkers of the cider brand and regularly chose ciders from a list of other brands. 

Group 2

- 28-40 years old with a mix  of males to females.

Drinkers of the cider brand that regularly chose ciders from their selection as well as from a selection of other brands.


What challenges did we face? 

Previously, our client had only ever had experience with traditional focus groups. All with very similar results and creative briefs that changed little from project to project.

After understanding our client’s goals, we knew that a traditional focus group simply wouldn’t give them the depth of insight they were looking for. We also knew that a market research online community would offer the perfect alternative! 

However, we faced a block.  The end client was resistant to using any other research methodology than a focus group. Our own client was also worried about not meeting the participants face-to-face in a focus group/workshop-style setting, where they could probe the participants for further thoughts and ideas

We took the time to properly consult with our client; sharing an in-depth presentation of the benefits of online communities and the kind of results that the client could hope to achieve. 

We knew that we would need to source a truly high-quality pool of participants in order to achieve the depth of insights our client looking for. Seeking participants that were not only the right fit, but also those that would be likely to engage fully with the research. 

We also planned to facilitate communication between our client and the insight community platform provider, to allow our client the headspace to focus on the research and less on the logistics.

With all those challenges to overcome, it was time to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in! 

The Angelfish twist...

Our journey of multiple consultations and regular communication with the client early on in the project instilled a level of trust in us that we really appreciated.  

Having no experience with this methodology previously, our client simply sent us their initial concepts and ideas and sought our advice on what we thought should be included.  This is one part of our job we love! Our Head of Consumer Research, Kelly, loves working with clients on task development. In order to achieve maximum and ideally 100% engagement from participants, we knew that it was super-important to make the tasks as simple as possible, and absolutely not to leave anything to interpretation.

We worked closely with the platform provider to recommend how our client’s content should be presented, and worked with our client to fine-tune the length of the tasks together. Our input (and most importantly, our honest feedback) to the client meant that the tasks became shorter, snappier and significantly more engaging. All the while still enabling them to achieve the insights they needed.

Being so deeply involved in the community task development allowed us to build a strong understanding of the participant profile, and subsequently write a powerful screener. This meant that not only did we fulfil the participant quota with outstanding people*, we also successfully validated over 50% more than we needed, to allow a buffer in case of dropouts.

Something Powerful

*Participant creativity was important for the tasks on this project and we turned away a large number of applicants because we didn’t think they were creative enough.

Our end-to-end support continued as we moved into the set-up phase of the community and providing training and guidance for our client. From the outset, we agreed exactly how our client would moderate the online community, what access the cider brand team would have and how much additional involvement was required of our team. Once we'd made our client aware of how much participant management we do, they felt much more confident in achieving the level of insight they wanted without the need for face to face. Did you know that we include all of this in our participant management? 

    • keeping in regular contact with participants 
    • chasing participants to complete tasks on time 
    • ensuring that participants have all the information they need 
    • answering participant questions 
    • and more...

Little did we all know the results the community would have in store for them... 

Let's Talk

A look inside the insight community... 

This community was designed to look like a social media platform in order to make it as easy and enjoyable for participants and clients to use as possible.  

We aimed to take participants on a journeywarming them up with “getting to know you” tasks so that by Day 3, they were confident enough in their own abilities to complete the final day’s more creative tasks in full force. What’s more, additional incentives such as cash prizes for the best creations of the day meant the participants were even more determined to get stuck in! 

Day 1: All about you

Day 2: Drinks you love

Day 3: Communications

The results 

Our client was positively blown away from the outcome of this community and the insights that they were able to gain from it in comparison to a traditional focus group

The end client too couldn’t believe what had been discovered, and the creative team were shocked at the insights they were given. This enabled them to create a truly exciting and innovative creative brief that went well beyond what their previous focus group results had ever been able to offer. 

Our client reported a number of other benefits using this methodology too, specifically having much more time to review everything the participants submitted. This meant that they could also devise sensible probes and further questions for the following sessions! 



They also felt that they really got to know the participants using the pen portraits we provided and through the interactions within the community. They even confessed to having favourites!

They discovered that because the participants were able to contribute as individuals as well as part of the community, there was so much more high-quality physical material that they could take a way and work with. 

All of our participant management input from participant chasing to encouraging the client to respond to task submissions (through “likes” and thank you messages), meant that we had ZERO dropouts in this study. In fact, the participants reported having a really enjoyable time taking part and feeling invested in the end result, so it really was smiles (and drinks) all round! Both our client and the end client were thrilled.

Key takeaways 

This project was a huge learning curve for our clients as newcomers to the online community methodology. Everyone’s hard work, involvement, trust and enthusiasm from the word “go” meant that this market research project became an incredibly collaborative and fruitful experience for everyone involved.  

Choose the methodology that will provide you with the best results – for this study, the benefits of online communities in market research were undeniable!

Communication, communication, communication – this makes for a much better understanding of the team’s expectations  

Persona knowledge is key – ensure your recruitment partner really understands your personas/participant profiles

Efficient screening is essential – make sure you’ve got rigorous screening process in place

Make sure you’ve got enough participants – always over-recruit in case of last-minute dropouts or cancellations

Choose your platform wisely – they are not all created equal! 

Mix it up with your incentives – remunerate your participants for time, but also throw in a few spot prizes for effort and creativity.  

“We’re absolutely delighted with how things have gone, and a massive thanks to you and the team at Angelfish for all your hard work making this happen."

What next?

If you have read this case study and would like to experience similar results for your business, get in touch with us today!

When you enlist our help with your qualitative market research recruitment, you’ll have your own dedicated and experienced project management team who will work with you from the start to help with your project.

Whatever your target audience, our team will make it happen. We’ll provide expert advice, regular updates and complete management of the process, and we’ll be on hand throughout the duration of your project to provide expert guidance every step of the way.