How Mobile Is Changing Research

Remember when cell phones were primarily used for emergencies? My first phone did have a color screen, but games were limited, texting was unheard of, and minutes were saved with a two-way walkie-talkie function. Oh, and I didn’t get one until I was old enough drive.

Today, for the most part, mobile phones are known as smartphones; they make information instantly accessible and where the Internet can’t help, I’m sure I have an app that can. These phones are not exclusive to particular age group, ethnic heritage, or social class and are with us when we wake up, go to bed, and most of the time between.
For researchers, mobile advances have provided a faster and more interesting way to reach desired respondents. Of course, the tricky part is identifying the appropriate use of mobile surveys.
It’s important to note that mobile can not replace traditional research methods, but it certainly can help increase response rates during times and events that people are not expected to be near their computers. Because the survey is likely being taken on a smartphone, photos of products, places, and people can be shared (photos really can be worth a thousand words) offering the ability of fewer words to be used and more ethnographic-type research to be completed.
Technology in general, including smartphones, is evolving market research methods and the respective businesses we serve. With immediate consumer perceptions, we can make more effective and efficient recommendations to business leaders.
As research methods evolve to include mobile and other technologies (like iPads and other tablets), we must understand the appropriate times for traditional and new data collection methods. More importantly, we must understand the data we can collect and how we can use it to make more informed decisions.
For more on this topic, join us at The Market Research Event this November in Orlando, Florida!

Garrett McGuire (@GJMcGuire) is a Consumer Insights Analyst for a major retailer. His areas of focus are advertising research, brand equity, and providing consumer insights for many marketing initiatives. Prior to his current position, he was a graduate student at Michigan State University where he began his blog, “The Journal of a mAD Man,” that explains the theories and methods of advertising.