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This is part 5 of a 9 part series by Carrie Robbins, a recent Master’s Degree recipient who did her thesis on Mobilizing Market Research: The state-of-the-art, future evolution and implications of mobile data collection methods in the field of market research. We’re more than halfway there and the good stuff keeps on coming! In this post Carrie lays out some of the issues mobile research is going to have to get buttoned up in order to experience widespread adoption. It’s a thought provoking section and brings up some critically important points.

Editors Note: This is part 5 of a 9 part series by Carrie Robbins, a recent Master’s Degree recipient who did her thesis on Mobilizing Market Research: The state-of-the-art, future evolution and implications of mobile data collection methods in the field of market research. Here are the links to the previous sections: 

Part 1: Why Go Mobile?

Part 2: Industry Insights

Part 3: Benefits & Current Uses

Part 4: Limitations & The Future

We’re more than halfway there and the good stuff keeps on coming! In this post Carrie lays out some of the issues mobile research is going to have to get buttoned up in order to experience widespread adoption. It’s a thought provoking section and brings up some critically important points.

Many references are cited in this piece. For a complete list of all of the references click here.

Since the GreenBook is also a Co-Sponsor of the Market Research in the Mobile World Conference, for the next 5 weeks as we run up to that event we’ll be posting a new section of Carrie’s report here. Registrants of the event will get access to a complete version that will be available via download. Carrie will also be attending MRMW11 and participating on one of our expert panels at the event!

This truly is a comprehensive review of the current state of the industry, the views of many industry thought leaders on what the future holds, and of current best practices being used. It should serve as a great resource for anyone interested in or actively engaged in utilizing mobile technologies for research-based initiatives. Enjoy!

By Carrie Robbins

The experts note that pricing has not yet been standardized for mobile methods. McCrary wonders

What is one question per person worth? Can you do 20 questions at a time every day for five days so that you can collect 100 data points…chunking it up? Does it matter if the same person answers all 100 questions or is any 18-year-old male from the Midwest, from a statistical perspective, just at good answering twenty-one through forty as the 18-year-old-male who answered questions one through twenty?

Whaley and Coleman point out that the question of whether mobile is cheaper than other methods has not yet been answered. Murphy and Schwitzer believe mobile to be cheaper, however Luck and Robbibaro note that it is only cheaper because the research tends to be shorter, and clients pay for the amount of information obtained. Pricing will have to be standardized as more market research firms offer mobile solutions. Murphy notes that some firms have difficulty accepting mobile because the price point is markedly different from other methods, but he warns that those who resist entirely will be left behind, as a rise in mobile research is inevitable.

The implications and nuances of mobile must be studied. Coleman, Sunada and Robbibaro all mention that it is necessary to explore how the physical and contextual aspects of mobile devices affect research outcomes. Coleman suggests creating an index to account for the differences between research outcomes when conducted on different platforms (for example, a ten in an online survey is equivalent to X in a mobile survey).

Murphy points out that avoiding mobile for fear of non-representative samples is a waste of an opportunity, explaining that the same fear kept many from adopting online methods at the outset. He states,

It’s kind of the same to me as…five years ago when everyone was talking about the web…five years ago everyone was decrying the shift, online research is not representative…but the reality is that research doesn’t deal with representative samples anymore anyway…So that whole idea is kind of out the window. It’s all convenience samples…you have to weight the data.

Rather than being deterred by the shortcomings of mobile methods, Murphy and other proponents suggest delving in, studying the implications and figuring out how to solve any innate problems.

Another issue that must be considered is how best to incentivise participants.  McCrary, Hobson and others suggest compensation (in the form of discounts or coupons, small amounts of money, or phone airtime, for example).  Others, such as Kuppusamy, Murphy and Popper, propose adding a gaming component to mobile research. Incentives would then be points or badges and participants would join in to have fun and compete with one another.

Privacy issues, particularly in connection with detecting a person’s location through the GPS on his or her phone and collecting other passively monitored information, will need to be examined (Robbibaro). Market researchers must put themselves in the shoes of consumers and understand what their concerns may be. App fatigue is another problem that Luck mentions. She jokingly suggests an industry app be developed, through which all market research firms might deliver their apps to participants to avoid such a problem.

This is Part 5 of a 9 part series. The next section will be posted the week of June 20th and will detail recommended best practices.

 

 
The experts believe that the benefits of mobile research include further engaging participants, as well as providing them with increased convenience. Sabine Stork, Senior Partner and Owner of market research firm Thinktank http://www.thinktank.uk.com/, explains, “One of the big upsides of mobile is that you get…unmediated insight into people’s lives…you’re handing over the tools and its kind of empowering I suppose to some extent.” Stork describes it as ‘democratizing marketing’, and Murphy agrees that it enhances consumers’ control over their relationship with a brand.

Editors Note: This is part 3 of a 9 part series by Carrie Robbins, a recent Master’s Degree recipient who did her thesis on Mobilizing Market Research: The state-of-the-art, future evolution and implications of mobile data collection methods in the field of market research. Here are the links to the previous sections:

Part 1: Why Go Mobile?

Part 2: Industry Insights

Since the GreenBook is also a Co-Sponsor of the Market Research in the Mobile World Conference, for the next 6 weeks as we run up to that event we’ll be posting a new section of Carrie’s report here. Registrants of the event will get access to a complete version that will be available via download. Carrie will also be attending MRMW11 and participating on one of our expert panels at the event!

This truly is a comprehensive review of the current state of the industry, the views of many industry thought leaders on what the future holds, and of current best practices being used. It should serve as a great resource for anyone interested in or actively engaged in utilizing mobile technologies for research-based initiatives. Enjoy!

By Carrie Robbins

The experts believe that the benefits of mobile research include further engaging participants, as well as providing them with increased convenience. Sabine Stork, Senior Partner and Owner of market research firm Thinktank, explains, “One of the big upsides of mobile is that you get…unmediated insight into people’s lives…you’re handing over the tools and its kind of empowering I suppose to some extent.” Stork describes it as ‘democratizing marketing’, and Murphy agrees that it enhances consumers’ control over their relationship with a brand.

Gathering in-the-moment data is, however, the most significant benefit of mobile. According to Elaine B. Coleman, Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder of Resolve Market Research, mobile can improve the quality of data. Coleman describes how retrospective protocols suffer from natural degradation of memory over time, decreasing the likelihood of an accurate recollection of an experience. Mobility offers real-time cognition and access to a person’s thoughts and intentions, undoubtedly augmenting the quality of the data. Mike Clarke, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Lieberman Research Worldwide , submits, “I think the potential advantage of getting consumer reaction to an experience more immediately after it occurred is towards the top of the list…it’s a benefit that…. has the potential to be truly unique.”

Because the mobile device is so personal, some interviewees point out that this often leads to more authentic, intimate, and truthful information. Qualitative market research consultant Kristin Schwitzer of Beacon Research states, “…It gives us another tool…that allows us as researchers to go into the moment with our target audience. And be there oftentimes when we’re not allowed or it’s not convenient.” Stork brings the intimacy of mobile to life, recalling, “…We asked people…how and where they like to read their magazines…and one of these readers uploaded a video of her getting into a bathtub with her magazine…fantastic! There’s absolutely no way, no way you would have got that through anything else.”

Close relationships with consumers can be built through mobile, and the interviewees note it increases participant engagement. McCrary explains that people who cannot be reached online can be accessed via mobile and subjects do not need to be tied to a single location. Senior Field Director Cris Sunada and Senior Vice President and General Manager Joanne Robbibaro (both of Lieberman) add that demographics such as youth and ethnicities that are not well represented in the online sphere tend to be accessible with mobile. Greg Bovitz, President of Bovitz Research Group, concludes that mobile increases the reach of a study. Stork specifically refers to the ability to identify the location of the respondent through their devices’ geolocation data as a benefit of mobile.

An interesting benefit of mobile research is the fact that most of the information gathered is user-generated, which lends it increased authenticity, according to Stork. She details a study that was conducted by collecting user-generated content (UGC) from mobile devices to use in a sales presentation to advertisers. This brought the readers to life and was considered more credible to the advertisers, as the images came directly from the consumers.

Current Uses of Mobile Research

Interviewees gave first-hand accounts of how mobile research currently is being used across the industry. They report that it is implemented for in-field data collection during intercepts (such as movie exits) or for short surveys prior to focus groups (Luck). Mobile seems to be best suited for gaining POP and ‘in the moment’ data directly from consumers while they are on their personal devices in the real world. Murphy deconstructs the underlining theory of mobile research by explaining, “we’re combining social media monitoring around brand sentiment with a real-time mobile feedback system…So, it’s primarily taking those streams of data and wrapping that around the idea of brand engagement and brand sentiment.”

Mobile research is often conducted by sending surveys to consumers’ mobile devices, either through a mobile web browser or a downloaded application. While surveys sent through applications are more powerful and tailored than those sent via web browsers, Kuppusamy encourages companies to offer both types in order to reach a wider range of devices and participants in a variety of contexts. Kuppusamy stresses that offering both types of mobile solutions provides a more holistic way to engage consumers “at multiple touch points with high relevance.” Luck and Bhaskaran assert that one benefit of apps is that new surveys can be sent to a phone behind the scenes and appear automatically on the phone without any effort on the part of the participant. Bovitz and Schwitzer point out that mobile is great for targeting mobile users or evaluating apps. Schwitzer observes that mobile is less well suited to older participants who tend not to be used to mobile devices, or when heavy video capabilities are needed.

Due to the physical size and technological constraints of mobile devices, these methods are employed when short sound bites will suffice and lengthy in-depth information is unnecessary. This has led to the use of mobile devices to gain small bits of data from consumers, which are built up over time, creating a longer-term relationship with consumers and establishing a profile of these consumers across a succession of interactions. Due to this new form of continued relationship with participants, mobile would seem to be well suited for panels.

Interestingly, mobile devices are particularly practical for capturing data from emerging markets, and are used to connect brands to consumers in the developing world (Hobson and Stork). Chris Hobson, Chief Operating Office of Txteagle (a sample provider and market research firm specializing in emerging markets) explains,

What people don’t realize is that most people on earth, their first experience with the thing called ‘the Internet’…is on a mobile phone…So if you are a global organization looking to reach consumers in the developing world, trying to find them online – you’re only going to find the top of the pyramid…But when you go to the mobile phone, you have a way to reach deeper into the demographic base, deeper down the pyramid…

It is clear that companies are still figuring out when mobile devices can and cannot be used, and best practices are in the process of being developed (Clarke, Luck and Murphy). The Best Practices section of this paper will touch on those mentioned by the interviewees.

This is Part 3 of a 9 part series. The next section will be posted the week of June 6th and will explore the limitations and future of mobile research approaches.

Check out my 9 part series on Mobilizing Market Research in Greenbook.org. I will copy the content below as well!

Mobilizing Market Research: Part 1 of a 9 Part Series

This truly is a comprehensive review of the current state of the industry, the views of many industry thought leaders on what the future holds, and of current best practices being used. It should serve as a great resource for anyone interested in or actively engaged in utilizing mobile technologies for research-based initiatives. I think you’ll be as impressed as I was upon reading it. Enjoy!

Editors Note: Earlier this year myself and several others involved with mobile research were approached to be interviewed by Carrie Robbins, a brilliant Grad Student doing her thesis on Mobilizing Market Research: The state-of-the-art, future evolution and implications of mobile data collection methods in the field of market research. I was so impressed with the results of her work that the GreenBook and I agreed to publish her paper. Since the GreenBook is also a Co-Sponsor of the Market Research in the Mobile World Conference, it seems fitting that for the next 9 weeks as we run up to that event we’ll be posting a new section of Carrie’s report here. Registrants of the event will get access to a complete version that will be available via download. Carrie will also be attending MRMW11 and participating on one of our expert panels at the event!

This truly is a comprehensive review of the current state of the industry, the views of many industry thought leaders on what the future holds, and of current best practices being used. It should serve as a great resource for anyone interested in or actively engaged in utilizing mobile technologies for research-based initiatives. I think you’ll be as impressed as I was upon reading it. Enjoy!

By Carrie Robbins

Traditional market research methodologies, such as mall intercepts, mailed or online questionnaires, and telephone surveys have been modernized. Mobile devices now aid mall intercepts, questionnaires can be sent directly to participants’ cell phones, and mobile ‘ethnographies’ are developing, which allow researchers to collect user generated content (UGC) such as images and videos directly from participants’ mobile phones as they go about their daily lives.

There is considerable interest in mobile research methods in the field of market research. The literature and expert interviews cited in this white paper as well as upcoming conferences intended to join practitioners, academics and industry leaders to discuss the topic[1] attest to this increasing awareness of mobile. 

This white paper uncovers the state of mobile data collection methods and where they are headed, and describes the implications to the field of market research due to this shift towards mobile. Whether the interest in mobile technology indicates a revolution or merely an evolution[2] in market research methodology, there is much being written on the topic as firms consider whether and to what extent they will pursue new methods of data collection. This paper will guide such decisions and help market research firms select mobile solutions based on their unique market research needs. While I have found ample written evidence of a shift towards mobile methods, a collective overview of the many disparate reports and opinion pieces is necessary. This paper represents such an overview, offering a unique contribution to the field of market research.

1      WHY GO MOBILE?

Market research firms seem increasingly interested in pursuing mobile methods. The 2010 Globalpark industry survey predicts self-completion using mobile devices to be the fastest growing methodology in 2011, which is the first time since 2004 that the study has not predicted the web to be the fastest growing methodology (Macer & Wilson, 2011). The recently published 2011 GRIT[3] report supports this, predicting an increase in the use of mobile methods over the next year. 54% of those surveyed reported they would conduct mobile surveys, 31% would conduct mobile qualitative research and 29% would conduct mobile ethnographic research over the next year (Murphy, 2011: 26). In a predictive market exercise, mobile surveys ranked 2nd after social media analytics among emerging methods that will gain the most market share over the next year (Murphy, 2011: 28). These figures are quite promising for the future of mobile.

The benefits of mobile research are reported to be convenience for participants, improved participation rates, getting closer to the ‘moment of truth,’ reaching more of the population, obtaining faster turnaround time, capturing geolocation data, increasing accuracy of data collected, reducing costs, and allowing for more personal ways of reaching participants (Macer & Wilson, 2009b). Interestingly, the most popular benefits of mobile research have to do with increasing the quality of research and are based on the respondents’ point of view, rather than focusing on the needs of the market research firms. A respondents’ positive experience during a research project is now the main concern.

The Benefits of Mobile Research

(Macer & Wilson, 2009b: 16)

Fortunate timing as the mobile industry reaches maturity in the U.S. leads to the increased viability of mobile methods. The use of mobile phones in the U.S. continues to rise. Currently, over 90% of mobile phones are Internet ready (Decipher, 2011). In 2010 “smartphones reached 1 in 4 mobile Americans and 3G penetration crossed the 50 percent threshold, signaling the maturation of the mobile industry”  (comScore, 2011: 25). This trend allows for mobile research methods, which take advantage of this technology, to flourish. While the mobile Internet is a great way to engage with a younger audience, Forrester Research predicts that the mobile user profile will broaden and the audience will expand in the near future (Husson, 2009). At the same time, a noteworthy decline in landline use also points to mobile as the best way to reach participants (Barber, 2009)

Mobile methods are fast and efficient for the researcher. Data is entered in a digital format, allowing for easy integration with a range of electronic systems and various computer-aided analytical programs. In terms of mobile devices used to aid researchers in the field, such as tablets like the iPad, the portable nature of such devices is a definite convenience for researchers.

Mobile devices allow researchers to gather qualitative information, which simulates ethnography, in that the practitioner collects data from the participant while in his or her natural habitat rather than bringing the participant into an artificial environment to conduct research. The mobile ‘ethnography’ allows the researcher to view and understand how products and services are integrated into consumer’s daily lives and homes, without the presence of a researcher, which can influence results (Reitsma, 2009a; Stork, 2010; Schwitzer, et al. 2011).

Location or event-based surveying and self-administered ethnographic studies appear to be the most original mobile methods (Reitsma, 2009a). Mobile methods allow the researcher to collect data from a participant over the course of consecutive ‘slivers of time’ and then analyze that information to understand how consumer behavior changes or remains consistent over time. This type of data is known as ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in the field of healthcare, substance abuse studies, organizational research, and other fields (Beal and Weiss, 2003; Collins et al., 2003; Maddock, 2009). In the past this type of research may have been done in person through observation, in constructed environments, or with mall intercepts and similar methods, but the ability to capture such data while intruding less into participants’ lives and over a longer period of time increases the relevance of mobile methods. For a more extensive overview of these methods, see Appendix C (Editor’s Note: to be published at the end of the series).

Incorporating mobile methodologies can help differentiate a market research firm in a field where 94% of firms offer online services, but few have gone mobile (Confirmit, 2010). Firms should seriously consider incorporating mobile capabilities into their portfolios if they want to get ahead of emerging trends in the industry and differentiate themselves from the competition.

However, the benefits of mobile data collection are by no means unilateral. A Globalpark report found that among the challenges mobile research presents, market research firms were most discouraged by its small format which limits questions, followed by issues with access to samples, a lack of support for different devices, the complex cost structures of networks, a lack of support in software, safety, difficulty delivering SMS messages, and confidentiality (Macer & Wilson, 2009b).

The Challenges of Mobile Research

(Macer & Wilson, 2009b: 17)

Although there is still much to learn about the ins and outs of mobile research, market research firms would seem to be well advised to consider incorporating mobile methods into their toolboxes sooner rather than later. In the near future penetration levels will rise and the process behind mobile methods will become increasingly seamless and standardized. 


[1] Mobile Research Conference 2011 in London, UK April 18-19, 2011 http://www.mobileresearchconference.com/; Confirmit Community Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May 9-11, 2011 http://www.confirmit-community.com/?source=201010_website_mr-feature-banner1; and the 2nd International conference on Market Research in the Mobile World 2011 in Atlanta Georgia July 19-20, 2011 http://www.merlien.org/upcoming-events/mobileresearch.html

[3] GreenBook Research Industry Trends

This is Part 1 of a 9 part series. The next section will be posted the week of May 23rd and will explore the views of 10 industry leaders on the mobile research space.

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