Tag Archives: qualitative research

3 Reasons Why Mobile is the Best Form of Market Research

The era of mobile research has arrived faster than anyone could have anticipated. This new dawn of information should be embraced by anyone in market research—as there are immense advantages to mobile research over traditional research methods, even online research. Many in the industry already understand this cyber oracle of sorts.

The advantages of mobile surveys can be broken down into three reasons:


Mobile Technology is Becoming Ubiquitous



As we reported, mobile devices are becoming king when it comes to consumers, as these statistics reveal:

More Americans use mobile devices for web browsing than they do PC’s.
– 60% of cell phones are smartphones.
– 71% of businesses employ mobile apps to attract consumers.

Furthermore, Google recently and officially announced that for the first time more searches come from smartphones and tablets than from laptops and desktops.

Lastly, a recent article in Survey Magazine interviewed Mark Ryan, Chief Research & Digital at Millward Brown Digital. He revealed that daily usage of mobile devices has topped that of television (194 minutes to 151 minutes). Moreover, recent Nielsen TV usage data shows the average time spent viewing television for 18-24 year olds has declined by 22% in the past three years. On the other hand, YouTube and other online platforms continue to grow.

The entire world is going mobile.


Mobile Research is Superior Qualitative Research



Ryan further explained in the interview that the true power of mobile research—beyond the reality more consumers are found there—is its ability to gauge behavior. He calls it “passive research,” where the researcher analyzes a respondent by observing him or her through the smartphone GPS, enterprise apps, or real-time surveys. He said: “Marketers are using mobile technology to understand where you shop, what you like to do on the weekends, where you live and work and what media you’re exposed to.”

Ryan does make a bold prediction that mobile surveys will evanesce in the near future, as marketers harness the gifts of consumer behavior over the limited amount of space in mobile technology.

We disagree, considering the rapid evolution of cloud data and other technological advances. Yet it is titillating that market researchers can take a full “show don’t tell” approach in research and analysis, all by tracking the intimate movement and patterns of consumers.


Mobile Research is More Effective



Further research from qSample details how mobile research is superior to online research (found in our Mobile Vs. Online White Paper). The conclusions not only underscore the benefits of mobile surveys, but deduce the behavioral differences between consumers using mobile technology and those who primarily stayed online:

Mobile data collection has an advantage over online surveys in cooperation rates (i.e., likelihood to participate) and in speed of response. Twice the data was collected in half the field of time. The mobile survey had to be shut down earlier than the online one, which was left open nearly a week to achieve the desired sample size of 300 completed surveys. For short surveys, mobile data collection can reasonable replace online data collection. In addition, the quality of data could be expected to be superior because the methodology is still a novelty and respondents seem more engaged. Because of this, field times can be shortened as well.

Supporting our conclusions, Retail Times published a recent study on mobile insights establishing additional advantages of mobile research:

When asked where a particular product was located on a shelf, there was a 26% discrepancy between the answers from mobile and online respondents, with mobile respondents able to validate their answer with a photo taken on their smartphone. In addition, 49% of mobile surveys were completed within ten minutes of the product test, compared to just 9% of online.

The findings show that real-time studies overall provide more accurate results. The piece furthermore quotes a market researcher who explained:

Consumers are increasingly living their lives on mobile devices, yet many market research professionals remain unsure of the benefits of this platform. This study shows that mobile provides richer, more accurate insights gathered closer to the moment. The market research industry needs to wake up and realize that mobile is the in-store research methodology of the future.


Any Issues with Mobile Research?



Any new era entails some growing pains. Market researchers should be aware of some issues when it comes to mobile research:

– Because of better wireless network services in cities, surveys can potentially be skewed, limiting the responses from those living in suburban settings.
– Mobile respondents tend to buy more capriciously, such as making a decision in the checkout lane instead of planning. Yet are also open to changing brands.
– Surveys need to ensure they are calibrated to various mobile platforms, from iPad to Kindle Fire, from iPhone to Android platform phones.
– Questions need to be as short and concise as possible, because of the limited space in mobile platforms. Ryan suggests no more than seven-minute surveys.
– Apps that conduct surveys need to be as light as possible, because of the restricted size of mobile technology hard drives.

These concerns and others will be gradually resolved as the business world circles the wagons around mobile technology. All of this, though, does point to improved and faster business research for those ready to embrace mobile research (already market research leans on online research more than any other medium).

Timbuk 3 famously sang, “The future is so bright I gotta wear shades.”

For market research, it should sing, “The future is so bright everyone’s gotta buy more smartphones.”

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Freud and the Intriguing History of Focus Groups

Focus groups may be seen as a dry scientific approach to market research. It may be so, but the actual origins of the focus groups are intriguing—replete with military intelligence, depth psychology, and a range of basic human instincts that of course include sex.

At its core, the history of the focus group is a fascinating journey into the innovative mind of one of the founding fathers of modern marketing.

Focus groups before they were focus groups:

The genesis of focus groups is generally attributed to sociologist Robert Merton in 1946 at the US Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. It began as a form of  to determine the social and mental effects of mass communications on the general public. Merton was a pioneer in the area of group studies. He conducted significant research on the effects of radio broadcasts, as well as Army training and morale films.

Basically, it was all research into understanding the effectiveness of propaganda.

The focus group hits puberty:

Enter Viennese psychologist and marketing guru Ernest Dichter, soon after the war ended and Merton’s “group studies” were standing around doing nothing. Dichter took this nascent methodology and ran with it into the next decade. He actually coined the term “focus group.” His ideas formed the modern manifestation of the focus group for market research.

Dichter was an acolyte of Sigmund Freud, and thus saw humans are driven by unconscious, irrational and often visceral desires. This went against the grain of market analysis in those days—a domain of quantitate research and face-value customer inquiry.

Dichter disagreed with these methodologies, chiding them as “nose counting.” He claimed that people’s shopping cravings were hidden like an iceberg below an ocean of the subconscious. Only through interaction and insight could a researcher decipher the true longing and concerns of consumers; and these were tethered to sexual cravings, parent issues, archetypal social fears and what not! As Dichter wrote in his book Strategy of Desire:

You would be amazed to find how often we mislead ourselves, regardless of how smart we think we are, when we attempt to explain why we are behaving the way we do…What people actually spend their money on in most instances are psychological differences, illusory brand images… If you let somebody talk long enough, you can read between the lines to find out what he really means.

Focus groups were, according to Dichter, the solution to leverage the deepest requirements of consumers. That’s what he employed primarily in his studies, calling his style of examination “motivational research.” He rapidly became one of the most successful marketers of the mid-20th century.

Even more, focus groups were a chance to conduct therapy on consumers, not just gather information. Dichter didn’t just wish to unearth the desires of participants in focus groups, but rather sought primal urges that could potentially be manipulated for the future.

The golden age of focus groups:

Here some of the successful marketing campaigns Dichter executed (and his psychological reasons behind them).

– Chrysler Plymouth convertible: Men widely wanted this car, seeing it as a symbol of virility and youth, but ultimately acquiesced to their wives’ wishes (usually walking out of the dealership with a sensible sedan). To solve this, Dichter advertised the convertible directly to women, describing it as a “home” product that stabilized the family.
– Ivory Soap: Dichter proposed that every product had a soul (“branding,” as we might call it today). One had to tap into that soul to understand its function. Ivory Soap’s soul was at its core composed of sensuality and privacy. Its purpose was to grant woman some “alone time” in the bath tub, a break from their families and a purist society.
– Barbie Doll: Dichter was convinced dolls were a projection of a little girl’s future self. He was able to persuade Mattel to make Barbie as beautiful and curvaceous as possible (or “sexual,” as he explained). After all and after puberty, people are mostly thinking of one thing…
– Betty Crocker Instant Cake Mix: Dichter discovered that adding an egg to the recipe seemed to bestow women with a sense they were participating in the cooking experience (unnecessary as the mix already included dried egg, but this catapulted the sales of the product). His reasoning was that the egg symbolized ovaries, and thus women felt they were metaphorically giving birth to something wonderful.

It is said that sex sells, but to a Freudian like Dichter the truth is that sex buys. Our sexual urges and identities are with us every moment, even when purchasing mundane items, Dichter thought. He always advocated, not always successfully, that his clients heavily employ phallic symbols, curvatures in design and pleasured-looking models—all coyly hidden in a conservative era.

As mentioned, it wasn’t just sex that dominated humans, but fundamental Maslovian and tribal wants. As one historian explained:

Dichter’s approach was rooted in a deep intuition and a keen understanding of basic human needs, rather than scientific method or quantitative analysis. He knew that people use objects to express their identities, and he recognized that objects hold different meanings for different people. Factors such as income, social position, race, gender, age and ethnicity all figured into his qualitative analysis of what consumers revealed in the focus groups. In defense of his touchy-feely techniques, Dichter often said, “Insight is my answer.”

The fall and rise of the focus group:

By the 60s, Dichter’s motivational research fell out of favor for market research studies. The rise of computer analysis and other factors swung research back to more quantitative realms (not to mention Freudian thinking also became unpopular). Dichter himself was relegated to a small-time consultant and occasional lecturer, a footnote of a glorious era.

Yet Dichter’s legacy remained, and his ideas have made a comeback in the Information Age (as has qualitative market research). The “soul” (or branding) of a product is more important than ever. Understanding the subconscious of a person is back in style in the business world—as companies study the brainwaves, eye movements, instinctive reactions, and other less-obvious aspects of customers. Google and other companies are spending a fortune on predictive analytics, attempting to predict consumer future behavior based on past data.

As our own research revealed:

According to leading neuroscientists, 95 percent of all thoughts, emotions and learning occur before people are cognizant of it. Therefore, most of what goes into our purchasing decisions can be attributed to our subconscious. Visual perception influences our buying decisions the most. KISSmetrics found that nearly 93 percent of buying decisions are based on visual stimuli. Six percent was based on touch and the remaining was divided up into sight and smell.

Steven Jobs famously said: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” He didn’t mean that a company ought to force-feed products to consumers. Rather, there existed a vast terrain in their subconscious that needed to be examined before any marketing campaign. Jobs was notorious for listening to consumers keenly and on a number of different levels.

Lastly, focus groups are more key than ever for marketing analysis, especially since they can now be conducted online with accurate results.

In a way, the internet has become a vast couch of Freudian therapy—full of memes and sex and blurred commerce. Dichter, who died in 1991, would probably be very proud of the internet, even if his conscious mind might not admit it was proud…

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