You Can’t Force Fit Mobile Into the Current Market Research Process

My industry pick this week goes to Leslie Townsend of Kinesis for her frank discussion regarding mobile research. Mobile isn’t something you force fit into the current market research process we use today. Mobile is its own category of research and those that approach it from this overall perspective – not merely as the connection piece of the process – will be the ones successfully interacting with their mobile audience.

Simply put, taking a standard survey, making it shorter, changing a couple of questions and pushing it out to a mobile device is not mobile market research. Leslie highlights an industry issue when saying till now most of the talk around mobile has focused on making it fit into our current process. I heard this many times during The Market Research Technology Event held in early May.  Are we doing mobile market research right? Thoughts from TMRTE 2012 provides the highlights around that mobile discussion.

Bottom line, those taking the time to define each step of the market research process from the perspective of being mobile – from initial planning of the project scope through data analysis – are the ones that will be successful in the mobile world.

Mobile is not about getting a survey on your phone. It is about connecting with a person living and functioning in a mobile environment. Think about it, the person taking the survey is mobile. They’re busy, they’re on the move, they’re multitasking – develop research that fits their mobile lifestyle not just their mobile device.

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. 

Real time data was the talk of TMRTE 2012

It’s been a week since The Market Research Technology Event ended and come last Wednesday evening I was officially in data overload. It’s taken me the past week to sort through my notes and give some deeper thought to the information presented. Overall I found the conference to be future looking; however it was not as eye opening or disruptive in thinking as what I heard at last year’s conference. Perhaps the unfamiliar ideas are becoming more mainstream?

Having now gone through my notes I did want to give an update to the 5 areas I had highlighted pre-conference. Here’s my take on what was presented:

  • Use of mobile in gathering market data
    • This was a big topic of focus; several companies shared their mobile research data along with the pros and cons of mobile as a viable research methodology.
    • I didn’t hear anything new related to mobile, there were simply more companies trying mobile on for size.
    • From my perspective, mobile has not been implemented as a methodology. Companies simply took traditional survey tools (streamlined them a bit) and pushed them to a mobile device for answering. I don’t see this as mobile market research. Some companies are getting closer to truly implementing mobile and did share their learnings. More on that in another post.
  • Big data – managing the overload
    • There seems to be no end to the data deluge, just expect it to grow
    • No real insights were given on how to manage TMD (too much data), if you have an answer I’m all ears.
    • There was a session on advanced computing for information visualization and analysis. Now I’m all for data visualization and creating a means of displaying data (lots of data) so people can quickly and easily get the point. That’s not what occurred in this session. It was cool and very future looking but so specialized and currently high level that the normal data shocked person walking around your city is not going to get anywhere near this visualization or analysis.
  • Gaming as a means of gathering data
    • This was interesting and surprising… I knew/believed gaming was a great way to engage and gain feedback. What I didn’t know were the statistics showing the positive impact of gaming. I found some of the behavioral stats a bit hard to believe but it’s easy to see the opportunity that exists in utilizing gaming to gain market intelligence.
    • Visit for the rest of the story…
  • Social media and crowdsourcing in market research
    • The social aspects of market research were touched upon in several of the presentations and while interesting it was hard to apply to actually doing research on a daily basis.
    • Social media is a natural crowdsourcing tool and a great place to data mine – the difficulty is truly understanding the learnings you mine and acting on them in a timely manner.
    • In this very time compressed world in which we live, accessing market insights where people are actively engaged (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) will increasingly be your channel to their feedback.
  • Growth and adoption of real time data
    • This was by far my area of interest – how do we get real time data, do we need it, does it really exist?
    • Real time was touched upon in various ways during the conversations on mobile – what better way to access real time input than via a person’s mobile device?
    • I was surprised (last year and this year) by the resistance to mobile and the idea of data being real time. We live in an instant gratification world so how could real time not be an option?
    • Google Consumer Surveys was perhaps a rude awakening for some? I happen to think of them as a very SmartCrowd and was interested to hear their presentation – if this didn’t confirm the value of real time not sure what would. (Again in the interest of full disclosure, InCrowd provides real time data in the healthcare space)
    • Micro surveys deliver data that is just as reliable as data gathered by traditional market research – so why wait for data?

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk.