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.”
Download this infographic.