Mobile research

Mobile Method (2)What is Mobile Research?

Many clients inquire about mobile research, a term that can mean different things to different clients. The two most common descriptions that clients provide when asked to define what they mean by mobile research are:

  1. Respondents completing online surveys on mobile devices (phone and tablets) in regards to the way the survey scales (known as responsive web design) correctly to the device being used and allows for it to be completed by the respondent
  2. A combination of a mobile research panel and mobile survey application to capture respondents (many times with a location-based or geofencing trigger) in a certain place and time (e.g., when shopping at a retail location, eating in a restaurant, etc.)

How is mobile research being used?

As researchers become more aware of the location-based capabilities of mobile devices and mobile applications, they are attracted to this data collection method. Some of the reasons for the attraction include:

  • Capturing respondents when they are in a certain location and may therefore be exposed to a certain stimuli (advertising or event) or engaged in certain behaviors (shopping at a retail store)
  • Improved response rates since mobile devices are ubiquitous in the population – everybody has at least one
  • Improved engagement since the survey should be more relevant to respondents as location information provides a reason for receiving the survey
  • Data points of location and time together to be included in the analysis (e.g., satisfaction, awareness, etc.)

Some examples of how mobile can be incorporated into market research:

  • Measuring satisfaction at a known location and time so that operations can “fix” potential problems with greater accuracy
  • Measuring brand/product/advertising awareness based on the location of the respondent to analyze against factors like advertising spend, promotions in place, merchandising format, etc.
  • Understanding shoppers or buyers behaviors based on their visitation of your location or that of your competitors
  • Knowledge of the “path to purchase” to understand patterns/trends of where consumers buy and what potential options were investigated or passed up along the way to the actual purchase

What are some best practices?

All good survey instrument design should take into account the fact that respondents will be completing, or attempting to complete, online surveys on their mobile devices. Many people rely heavily or exclusively on their mobile devices to do their computing, especially when it comes to e-mail. This means that samples of populations being surveyed (lists or online panel) are going to receive and complete surveys on their mobile devices. Good design is not only scaling (responsive web design) an online survey to a mobile screen, but awareness that respondents are answering the survey in a different setting (on-the-go as opposed to at a desk). They will most likely have less time to devote to completing it and will be less able to easily comprehend complex question and answer sets.

What are the challenges of mobile research?

One of the difficulties in conducting location-based mobile research currently is the lack of a significant number of mobile panelists and the ways in which researchers entice participants to download an application and give their consent to be tracked. Both are challenges that can be overcome with thoughtful research design. It is early days in the mobile research space but it will only grow larger over time as research clients demand it and research firms like The Olinger Group continue to devise solutions that leverage this new, exciting methodology to create value.