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Can Qualitative Research Be As Smart As Your Phone?

mobile video


By John Williamson, CEO & Founder, Qualvu

The breakneck pace at which smartphones are being adopted is arguably the biggest story in the history of technological diffusion, and it’s a story that has significant cost, quality and speed implications for market researchers.

Four years ago, Apple sold almost two million iPhone 4’s in its first three days on the market. To date, they’ve sold 57 million. Last year, more than 300 million mobile phones were sold in the first quarter alone. Fifty-four million of those were smartphones – phones capable of running a variety of applications and featuring integrated browsers to connect to the Internet. Google’s Android operating system is growing 866% year-over-year, with more than 160,000 new Android phones activated every day. Worldwide, five billion persons – more than 70% of the world’s population – have mobile phones.

In the U.S., nine out of ten have a mobile phone, and 31% of those – about 73 million – have a smartphone. It’s estimated that within four years, 43% of mobile users will be using smartphones.

With the growth of smartphones has come an equally explosive growth in applications. One billion apps are being downloaded every year. The iPad app store has 11,000 apps, and the Android marketplace has 70,000. Both are dwarfed by the Apple iPhone app store with its 225,000 apps. Three billion apps have been downloaded since the app store was launched.

Denver-based online qualitative research firm Qualvu believes that the smartphone is poised to make a significant impact on how consumers communicate and get information to and from companies, and how businesses can reach consumers, be it to conduct commerce or to harvest feedback.

The benefits of mobile research are obvious: in-the-moment, relevant consumer feedback, given at the precise time a consumer is evaluating, purchasing or using a product or service.

Through the use of smartphones, Internet-based video for qualitative research can be expanded to elicit critical marketing intelligence — to bring business questions to where the consumers are, at their convenience and on their terms. This has allowed companies, through hundreds of online projects, to get into consumers’ lives in ways that other methods cannot deliver, turning virtually every moment into a market research opportunity. Consumers report back what a business needs to know, on camera, and to offer information that the company might not have even thought to ask.

Panelists respond through their smartphones (“on-the-go”), which makes research more inclusive than ever by allowing companies to connect with hard-to-reach audiences. Businesses are still able to share specific stimuli, but now, the world that surrounds participants stimulates them — at the times when they interact with brands, products, and services and what they have in front of their eyes in those key moments of truth.

The ultimate goal is to facilitate continuous, candid and relevant communication between brands and consumers, allowing businesses to make better decisions to ensure that their strategies dovetail with their consumers’ needs.

Another dividend of using smartphones is economy. Companies save by not having to organize focus groups, or even to supply respondents with video equipment.

Given where the tech-enabled consumer world is going and how new technologies are changing the way we live and share information, this seemed like the next progression for a company like Qualvu that has worked hard to make qualitative research accessible to all businesses, from start-ups, to small businesses, to the world’s leading brands. Everyone needs better consumer insights – the truth – to make better business decisions. Today, the truth isn’t found by Diogenes using a lamp; it’s found by everyday consumers using the ubiquitous smartphone.

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2 responses to “Can Qualitative Research Be As Smart As Your Phone?

  1. At this point in the development of the technology, and depending on the subject matter and who you are interviewing, I would worry about obtaining biased respondents. People who are proficient in using smartphones may be quite different then the general consumer or a specific population. .

  2. Good point Nicholas, and indeed the utilization of the Qualvu Smartphone app might skew towards those with that level of mobile proficiency. However keep in mind this is only one of the collection methods we deploy – whether webcam-based, or flip-cam based, or even mobile phones, our design is to enable any consumer segment to easily participate. So your project sample might include some participants with smartphones, and perhaps others with different camera types provided by the participants or by Qualvu.

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