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Mobilizing Market Research: Going Forward – The Mobile To-Do List

In part 5 of a 9 part series on the evolution and implications of mobile data collection methods in the field of market research, Carrie Robbins lays out some of the issues mobile research is going to have to get buttoned up in order to experience widespread adoption.



Editors Note: This is part 5 of a 9 part series by Carrie Robbins, a recent Master’s Degree recipient who did her thesis on Mobilizing Market Research: The state-of-the-art, future evolution and implications of mobile data collection methods in the field of market research. Here are the links to the previous sections:

Part 1: Why Go Mobile?

Part 2: Industry Insights

Part 3: Benefits & Current Uses

Part 4: Limitations & The Future

We’re more than halfway there and the good stuff keeps on coming! In this post Carrie lays out some of the issues mobile research is going to have to get buttoned up in order to experience widespread adoption. It’s a thought provoking section and brings up some critically important points.

Many references are cited in this piece. For a complete list of all of the references click here.

Since the GreenBook is also a Co-Sponsor of the Market Research in the Mobile World Conference, for the next 5 weeks as we run up to that event we’ll be posting a new section of Carrie’s report here. Registrants of the event will get access to a complete version that will be available via download. Carrie will also be attending MRMW11 and participating on one of our expert panels at the event!

This truly is a comprehensive review of the current state of the industry, the views of many industry thought leaders on what the future holds, and of current best practices being used. It should serve as a great resource for anyone interested in or actively engaged in utilizing mobile technologies for research-based initiatives. Enjoy!


By Carrie Robbins

The experts note that pricing has not yet been standardized for mobile methods. McCrary wonders

What is one question per person worth? Can you do 20 questions at a time every day for five days so that you can collect 100 data points…chunking it up? Does it matter if the same person answers all 100 questions or is any 18-year-old male from the Midwest, from a statistical perspective, just at good answering twenty-one through forty as the 18-year-old-male who answered questions one through twenty?

Whaley and Coleman point out that the question of whether mobile is cheaper than other methods has not yet been answered. Murphy and Schwitzer believe mobile to be cheaper, however Luck and Robbibaro note that it is only cheaper because the research tends to be shorter, and clients pay for the amount of information obtained. Pricing will have to be standardized as more market research firms offer mobile solutions. Murphy notes that some firms have difficulty accepting mobile because the price point is markedly different from other methods, but he warns that those who resist entirely will be left behind, as a rise in mobile research is inevitable.

The implications and nuances of mobile must be studied. Coleman, Sunada and Robbibaro all mention that it is necessary to explore how the physical and contextual aspects of mobile devices affect research outcomes. Coleman suggests creating an index to account for the differences between research outcomes when conducted on different platforms (for example, a ten in an online survey is equivalent to X in a mobile survey).

Murphy points out that avoiding mobile for fear of non-representative samples is a waste of an opportunity, explaining that the same fear kept many from adopting online methods at the outset. He states,

It’s kind of the same to me as…five years ago when everyone was talking about the web…five years ago everyone was decrying the shift, online research is not representative…but the reality is that research doesn’t deal with representative samples anymore anyway…So that whole idea is kind of out the window. It’s all convenience samples…you have to weight the data.

Rather than being deterred by the shortcomings of mobile methods, Murphy and other proponents suggest delving in, studying the implications and figuring out how to solve any innate problems.

Another issue that must be considered is how best to incentivise participants.  McCrary, Hobson and others suggest compensation (in the form of discounts or coupons, small amounts of money, or phone airtime, for example).  Others, such as Kuppusamy, Murphy and Popper, propose adding a gaming component to mobile research. Incentives would then be points or badges and participants would join in to have fun and compete with one another.

Privacy issues, particularly in connection with detecting a person’s location through the GPS on his or her phone and collecting other passively monitored information, will need to be examined (Robbibaro). Market researchers must put themselves in the shoes of consumers and understand what their concerns may be. App fatigue is another problem that Luck mentions. She jokingly suggests an industry app be developed, through which all market research firms might deliver their apps to participants to avoid such a problem.

This is Part 5 of a 9 part series. The next section will be posted the week of June 20th and will detail recommended best practices.


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