Civicom: Your project success is our number one priority
Join us October 10 in Denver
The 2019 GRIT Insights Practice Edition survey is here

7 learnings from the Super Bowl XLV (2011) Mobile Ethnography

Using their iPhones, 235 SuperBowl watchers shared their experience with us real-time. Here’s how we did it, and what we learned.

Super Bowl

By Kristin Schwitzer, Beacon Research

Using their iPhones, 235 SuperBowl watchers shared their experience with us real-time.

Here’s how we did it:

Just 3 days before this year’s Super Bowl game, 4 leading market research firms (Survey Analytics, BrandScan 360, Beacon Research, and Hemispheres Research) quickly joined forces to create a large scale mobile ethnography of this major social event.  Immediately following the half-time break, the 1,200 iPhone owners in the Survey Analytics SurveySwipe consumer mobile panel received a push notification with a link to participate in our Super Bowl study.  Twenty percent accepted.  The short survey included both closed- and open-ended questions, as well as two picture requests.

Here’s what we learned:

  1. Mobile is a fast and efficient way to take researchers into consumers’ lives.
    Without even traveling, we were able to peek into 235 SuperBowl moments!
  2. Two thirds of our participants wanted Green Bay to win.
  3. Their favorite ads were for Doritos, with Budweiser and Volkswagen close behind.

  4. The ad, with a 77-year-old Joan Rivers as the new GoDaddy girl, was their least favorite.

5. More watched the game at home than out at a party or pub.

Super Bowel 2011 Mobile Ethnography

6. Non-alcoholic drinks were just as prevalent as beer.

Super Bowel 2011 Mobile Ethnography

7.  Ready-to-eat foods and salty snacks were more common than those made from scratch.

Super Bowel Mobile Ethnography

We encourage you to talk about these next-day findings around the water cooler, and then check back later this week when we share additional learning from this study.

Until then, start imagining how mobile ethnography could help your brand and/or client.  What consumer moments would you love to experience by using mobile research?


You can download the full report now here:

Please share...

11 responses to “7 learnings from the Super Bowl XLV (2011) Mobile Ethnography

  1. The fly-in-the-ointment here is that this was an iPhone-only demographic (white/affluent/younger/etc), therefore, not indicative of any majority whatsoever (unless you’re in certain parts of the Bay Area).

    Unless you conduct this as a mobile web survey, reaching 50-95% of all devices, it’s pretty much meaningless. It would be possible, via SMS and mobile web, to achieve this same survey (actually, could have been done by SMS alone) and had a far more meaningful result.

    1. The point of the exercise was not to create a broadly representative sample; that would be a straight quant exercise and this was much more of a “quantliative” design.

      The goal was simply to learn from a best practices standpoint how best to leverage smartphone-driven research to acquire both quant and ethnographic results. We were more interested in exploring new models of event-focused engagement and insight quality than we were in acquiring a broad set of data with projectable implications for a larger population.

      That said, our results have been in line with other survey based results. The difference for us is that we actually achieved getting glimpses into the lives of our participants that could never be possible under a traditional survey model.

      By necessity it was focused on iPhone users only since the needed app approval for Android, Windows, RIM, and Symbian could not come through on time. We factored that into our approach and were completely satisfied with a sample of the iPhone only population for this experimental project.

      I agree that SMS and WAP approaches could work as well, although they are far more intrusive and labor intensive. The app model allows for a unique, highly customizable user experience and it is our belief that this is what will drive long term consumer engagement as partners in the research process. We’re simply not interested in treating consumers as a commodity anymore; we want to build lasting relationships with them and foster the same between them and brands. That can be pretty hard to achieve using other approaches.

  2. Kristin – great to see this write up and your use of the iPhone for ethnography. Very pleased to learn from your study. Great work. Anni

Join the conversation