Better Research Mobile or Other?

Discussion
Aug 15, 2011
Bernice Hurst

Research into customer demand and opinions is being done, increasingly, in real time. According to a study by Resolve Market Research, Cint and Thumbspeak, results from mobile phones and online surveys provide roughly equivalent results. The researchers argue that they can either complement one another, or run separately, “to provide very timely and reliable insights.”

Split between 866 American iPhone and Tablet users, participants were asked about how the instruments were used.

“What’s surprising is that regardless of taking the survey on a smartphone or online, respondents’ data look very similar,” Elaine Coleman, co-founder and chief research officer at Resolve Market Research, said in a statement. “Yet, what differed significantly were the higher response rates and completion rates in favor of iPhones (43 percent Mobile versus 24 percent Online). Although more research is needed to understand the “novelty effect” of the mobile platform, taken together, the advantages of surveying consumers on mobile might outweigh the disadvantages of online. Most importantly, you can now access consumers’ decision-making and preferences in natural, relevant and real-time contexts.”

LightspeedAhead likewise conducted a study last year that touted the benefits of mobile research, based primarily on speed and its potential with younger respondents. Parallel studies amongst mobile and online participants in the U.S. and U.K. aimed “to test response times and demographic reach”, found “results…clearly demonstrated the significant strengths of a mobile survey, particularly in regard to response rates, response times, and demographic reach.”

Preferences for online research seem to pre-date mobile developments. In June 2011, Synovate compared new mobile developments with early online research but emphasized the “prevalence of the technologies and the speed” at which mobile has spread would make a significant difference. Thomas Edwards, global head of mobile solutions, advises helping clients consider whether mobile research is best for their needs.

“You have to work with them, guide them and make sure that the right decisions are made,” he told research-live. Location-based services, for example, are a “game changer” according to Mr. Edwards, but the challenge is to supplement traditional methods.

Defending online, marketest.co.uk’s website mentions advantages such as precision targeting, international coverage, affordability, reliability, versatility and speed. To be fair, however, these were not dated and quite possibly based on applications that current mobile technology overcomes, such as using video and images as well as comparison to face-to-face and postal data collection methods. B2binternational, meanwhile, referred to Unilever’s excitement about online replacing “other methods” based on cost and speed – back in the technological dark ages of 2007.

Discussion Questions: What do you think are the opportunities as well the challenges around mobile research? How may mobile complement (or supplant) newer online consumer research methods as well as more traditional ones?

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6 Comments on "Better Research Mobile or Other?"


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Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

I’ve got to believe this was a result of the “novelty factor.” There are so many reasons why a mobile survey taker would stop mid-survey: ran out of time, text message coming in, boredom, the light changed…I just don’t see it working well in the long term.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

In order for any research to be accurate, it needs to be representative of the desired target demographic group. When mobile can do this, it will become another way to garner consumer data. Over time, I expect that mobile will have enough users who opt in to survey, so that those surveys are accurate.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

The answer to question 14 is – wait a minute got to answer this text – now where was I, question 14? How do I get back to that screen? The mobile world has a sense of urgency about it. Those dedicated users will find it very hard to ignore the calls, texts, tweets, and emails (remember those) that arrive while taking a survey and after a couple interruptions, will they go back to complete it? Perhaps, if it is 140 characters or less.

Joan Treistman
Guest
9 years 8 months ago
The real advantage of mobile surveys is the ability to capture “in the moment” opinions and behavior. For the time being, mobile interviewing serves as an added resource in the pursuit of insights. The penetration of smart phones in the population is still at 35% and the demographics are skewed, especially when you compare users of iPhones to Droids, etc…. Importantly, the answer to the question “why?” and other open ended comments are limited by the nature of the smart phone questionnaire capacity and respondent involvement. The article is right to caution against the sustainability of the higher response rate for mobile devices. There was a similar boost for online and then a drop when the novelty was over. Hence, we see the need on the part of many to boost their respondent samples with panels and communities and Craigslist, for example. Bottom line, there is a great opportunity to capture relevant information with mobile devices. But it’s not a substitute (yet) for all the other data collection methods when you are looking for comprehensive… Read more »
Michael Buege
Guest
Michael Buege
9 years 8 months ago

The technology is now here to create cost effective “narrated” mobile interactive surveys that can be pushed or accessed by customers when scanning QR Codes placed at store level or in ads. This will allow retailers of just about any size or format to acquire valuable customer feedback to virtually any question while “in the moment.”

David Leavitt
Guest
David Leavitt
9 years 8 months ago

Mobile could be better for when the need for accurate recall or immediate feedback is critical. Often, hours or days later, what the respondent recalls is not entirely correct. Having said that, I do believe the research would be limited in scope and respondent time.

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