If you would’ve asked any person holding a cell phone five years ago if useful market research could come from their cell phone’s computing power, you would’ve received some strange looks. Nowadays, however, smart phones have more computing power than most old family computers that sit unused in their dens. Smart phone use is growing exponentially every year and a survey done by Cisco in 2011 estimated that there will be one mobile device for every person on this planet by 2015. Where in-person, telephone and online research previously could not reach some of these savvy on-the-go participants, mobile research gathers new insights from these highly mobile people.
To effectively conduct market research in a mobile environment, the usage and interaction level of most smart phones has to be understood. uSamp conducted research that showed over half of mobile owners had smart phones and within that specific population were the harder to reach demographics such as 25-to-34 year olds. Smart phone applications or “apps” could be one new way that market researchers could reach a younger audience. According to the app statistics aggregator XYO, in March of this year mobile users in the US downloaded over 835 million Android apps and over 446 iPhone apps. Market researchers may soon find themselves adopting a world of apps.
uSamp also found that the top activities on mobile devices are checking e-mail, making calls (yes, people still make calls with smart phones!) and accessing social media. These users were also found to not have any one set peak time that they were primarily using their smart phone. For instance, Nineteen percent of 35-to-44-year-olds and 16 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds were engaged in all types of different activities on their smartphones from the late night to the early morning (8 p.m.-5 a.m.). This constant availability of respondents could potentially root out any problems of time and effectively streamline the research process to a single time and a single group subset.
There are some issues, however, with mobile research. a few are as follows:
- Operating system compatibility of the apps, as programming for both Android and Apple’s iOS platforms are both different from one another. Firms would have to program apps for both platforms (unless they only wanted to reach Android or Apple users) in order to achieve a good sample rate.
- Loss of signal is also another problem that pops up while conducting mobile research. A participant could lose signal and not submit the necessary data and without programs that will save the data and allow a respondent to complete the survey without signal while still including an option to submit results once a survey-taker has regained signal.
All in all, mobile research is still in its infancy. Many errors and statistical anomalies not yet accounted for can come from a mobile campaign. Traditional research methods still exist and will continue to thrive, as in-person research (focus groups, panels) may still be the most reliable source for good market research. Pretty soon, though, we may hear: “So you want to do some market research? There’s an app for that!”
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Managing mobile research: How it’s different and why it matters, Quirks Marketing Research
How to Use Mobile Research to Grow Your Business, MoneyHighStreet