It’s hard to remember a world without cell phones and tablets. These days we rely on our devices to pay bills, listen to music, stay in touch, read books, catch up on our favorite TV show, record moments, navigate through traffic, and so on. With approximately two billion mobile device users worldwide spending hours a day taking advantage of their devices’ many functions, it’s no wonder why the market research industry has been buzzing about taking online studies into the mobile realm.
Although to some it may seem like an obvious move, many companies are still apprehensive about taking the leap to mobile market research. Considering the amount of time it took to “perfect” the accuracy of online survey results, who can blame them? Just the thought of having to reduce the survey length drastically to keep mobile respondents from losing interest and dropping out seems terrifying and unmanageable, but the benefits outshine any introductory complications.
According to Quirk’s, about 70 percent of shoppers use their smartphones and devices while in a store. Mobile platforms have discovered ways of finding these shoppers using geo-targeting. This capability allows researchers to intercept potential respondents the minute they walk into a store by sending them a message directly to their phone. If they accept, respondents can take a brief survey while in the store, which yields more accuracy based on a fresh memory of their experience.
This in-store survey process is known as a “shop-along.” The survey can ask respondents questions based on what is in front of them and direct them, as needed, to specific aspects so they can express their honest reaction while in the moment! Respondents may reply using a variety of methods such as submitting photos and videos or using their device’s audio recorder.
Want to get a clearer picture? Okay, let’s say a consumer named Bob walks into a grocery store called Food Fresh. As soon as the platform acknowledges that Bob has entered, a notification appears on his phone asking him if he would like to take a brief survey about Food Fresh. Once Bob accepts and passes the screener, the survey asks Bob to visit the produce section. While in the produce section, he is asked a handful of questions regarding the quality of the produce. Bob responds to open-ended questions by simply voice recording his answers. He is then asked to take a photo of anything that is not to his liking, so he takes a picture of some heads of lettuce that appear to be wilting. The survey then asks him to finish his shopping and resume once he is done. Upon leaving the store, the survey asks Bob one final question, “please describe how you feel after shopping at Food Fresh.” Bob then records a short video of himself speaking and recounts his shopping experience.
The researchers working on the Food Fresh study now have Bob’s raw, unfiltered feedback. Meanwhile, Bob enjoyed a simple, interactive questionnaire and feels that the researchers care about what he personally thinks about Food Fresh. Everyone wins. Some additional benefits include the potential for size and diversity of the mobile panel – almost everyone has a smartphone these days and many already use them while shopping, whether it’s to text a friend or family member for a recommendation, or for online price comparisons. Consumers are accustomed to engaging with their phones while they’re in stores.
Although there are still many kinks to iron out, including figuring out what kind of target is most appropriate for mobile research, this major adjustment seems well worth the initial struggle. After all, it took years of trial-and-error to take cellphones from briefcase to back pocket. You can’t be ahead of the curve unless you innovate. This may not be appropriate for everyone, but for some it will be the perfect solution.
If you are curious to know more, feel free to get in touch!