Are we doing mobile market research right? Thoughts from TMRTE 2012

Dr. A.K. Pradeep, the keynote speaker kicking off  The Market Research Technology Event, set the tone for the first day if not the entire conference. A point he made several times was the notion that ‘everywhere is essential’ – portability is key.

How do we make ‘everywhere’ feasible?  Very simply – mobile.

As I mentioned in a previous post, mobile research was a major topic of focus at the conference. However there wasn’t much new information presented this year. I got the impression that companies simply took traditional survey tools (did a little streamlining) and pushed them to a mobile device for answering. One can’t really call that mobile market research.

A few companies are getting closer to real mobile research, here’s what I learned from them.

  • As an industry we need to work through potential interface issues in creating surveys for small mobile devices. Your finger might not be as accurate as a mouse pointer or a stylus but you always have your fingers with you and mobile allows you go ‘everywhere’ with your target audience.
  • A strong level of visual intuitiveness is needed with mobile. Your audience needs to figure it all out by looking at it, long and detail instructions aren’t your friend on a mobile device.
  • Multi sensory confirmation is a must with mobile. To support accuracy more visual information is needed to indicate what’s happening during the survey process – sounds, lights, color change, size change.

The conference presentations and subsequent discussions generated questions around the use of mobile in market research, possibly more questions than answers.

Is mobile more convenient? Statistics presented at the conference:

  • 13% prefer surveys via mobile with 87% preferring email
  • There is a need to send double the invites to get the required sample size with mobile vs. email
  • Email respondents completed surveys faster

What does this tell us?

What do we mean by mobile survey tools?

  • It’s not good enough that the survey functions on a mobile device –it has to work in the mobile environment. The person taking the survey is mobile! They’re busy, they’re moving, doing multiple things – develop a survey that fits the mobile environment not just the mobile device (short, fast, easy to answer).

Why does a survey have to be long with several questions answered at the same time?

  • Micro surveys can be very effective at gathering information.
  • Questions can be asked over a few hours or few days.
  • Make the survey fit the mobile environment.

The true power behind mobile market research is the candid, authenticity of the responses and the ability to reach people in the moment. The explosion of smart phones has driven the mobile reality we have today and this will only continue to grow in the future.

For a large portion of the population their smart phone is with them… well…  pretty much all the time. Your smart phone is truly the most personal of all computers. Mobile done right is a personal engagement with your target audience.

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk. 

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