22 June 2018
Blipfoto - developing a new business model that customers buy into

When Edinburgh based photo website Blipfoto ran into trouble, it turned to market research to help reverse its fortunes. “Blipfoto had a loyal following but it had run out of money, explains its commercial director, Ian Stevenson. “After setting up a community interest company, we wanted to talk to the customers about how to make it sustainable.”

Ian and three other directors stepped in February last year initially to build a crowd funding campaign to bring in the much needed revenue. Raising a healthy £160,000 through crowdfunding, highlighted Blipfoto’s popularity but the team needed a workable income stream to keep things going.

The research consultant’s view Research consultant Ruth Stevenson explains how she saw the issues. “Blipfoto came to me with a clear question: What new membership model will make us financially viable without driving away our existing members?” 

Working with the team, Ruth designed a survey to identify different customer groups, their attitudes and what features could be included. They presented five theoretical models a couple of which were designed to be provocative but they helped to test everyone’s assumptions. With over 1,300 responses Blipfoto extrapolated what revenue could be raised for the different membership levels.

“Quantitative research is all about asking the right people the right questions. The research enabled us to understand exactly how the potential market was prepared to engage with Blipfoto,” explains Ruth

The results The 1,300 responses highlighted a key insight. Whereas a vocal minority of Blipfoto customers only wanted paid membership, more than half felt there should be a free option as well. So Blipfoto offered both, developing a new paid-for grade to attract those who were keen to take advantage of additional benefits.

Blipfoto relaunched its membership package last October and within one month had generated enough income to sustain the company for a year. “Market research give us insight into what our customers really wanted,” Ian enthuses. “The results turned our fortunes around.”

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